19 April 2013

Zimbabwe: Another Sham Poll - MDCs Complicit

editorial

THE apparent success of Zanu PF in blocking a UNDP team from coming to Zimbabwe on a poll-funding related assessment mission suggests the MDC formations have yet again capitulated to Zanu PF's signature bullyboy tactics.

The decision to bar the team from a body which partly funded the country's costly constitution-making exercise by availing no less than US$22 million, sends the wrong signals at a time the country is purportedly seeking to re-engage the international community and effectively repair its battered image.

More importantly, by allowing Zanu PF to bulldoze its agenda, the MDC parties are complicit in setting the stage for another sham election whose implications would be ghastly for a nation just emerging out of the woods.

On Monday there were claims Zanu PF had yielded to pressure from the MDC groups -- a rarity in the life of the coalition government -- by allowing the UN elections assessment team, stuck in neighbouring South Africa, to visit the country to audit the political environment before funding forthcoming polls following Zimbabwe's request for US$250 million.

The reality check was not long in coming.

A day later MDC leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told the media "we have agreed to look for money internally, but without ignoring external support", as there was no consensus in government on the terms of reference for a UN inspection team.

It is mostly dictatorships -- the likes of reclusive North Korea -- that are averse to external scrutiny for they have much to hide, not aspiring democracies like Zimbabwe.

The failure by the MDC leaders to square up to Zanu PF's depredations and self-serving political strategy has been a recurring theme in the life of the unity government. The MDC parties have raised the white flag on, among other disputed issues, GNU ministerial allocations, governors, the Attorney-General and RBZ governor, blatant violation of Sadc resolutions and outstanding GPA reforms.

To cap it all was Tsvangirai's shocker this week in announcing he and President Robert Mugabe had agreed an election roadmap would be crafted by two cabinet ministers from their parties to inform dates for crucial elections this year.

In what appeared to be readiness to bend over backwards to accommodate Zanu PF, Tsvangirai seems to have conveniently forgotten the tripartite Global Political Agreement (GPA) he signed in 2008 contains a roadmap to elections which Sadc -- guarantors of the GPA -- resolutely insist on.

Like an insatiable beast, Zanu PF will only wring yet more concessions from the pliant MDCs.

And as we've pointed out before, Tsvangirai's poisoned-chalice role of superintending preparations for elections might come back to haunt him.

He has effectively relinquished the option to cry foul should Zanu PF steal the vote, as it has been accused of doing in previous elections.

Just how the MDCs expect the imminent elections to be free and fair when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission -- which they believe rigged the last election -- remains wholly unreconstructed and staffed with largely the same pro-Zanu PF security agents is a mystery.

What's more, the stakes are much higher this time as defeat could be tantamount to political demise, which could make for a cutthroat contestation, literally.

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