25 October 2017

Zimbabwe: Postpone Election, Says MDC-T's Gutu

Photo: The Standard
Joice Mujuru and Morgan Tsvangirai supporters at rally (file photo).

"The current opposition, in whatever form or nature it appears, is solidly ill-prepared to solely resolve the deeply-rooted political and socio-economic challenges facing the country.

"We are terribly under-funded and rather ill-organised and in some cases, actually deeply divided amongst ourselves."

A SENIOR MDC-T official has called for postponement of the crunch 2018 elections, saying the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is neither ready, nor adequately to ensure a credible ballot.

MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu added that conditions which led to contested elections in the past persist, making it inevitable that president Robert Mugabe is set for another land slide victory.

Gutu insisted that he was expressing his personal views and not those of his party an article published in the opinion section of this publication (read the article here).

Zimbabwe is due to hold fresh elections next year with President Robert Mugabe seeking another five-year mandate at the helm. The now 93-year-old has led the country for 37 years and refuses to retire.

Gutu said the on-going biometric voter registration (BVR), administered ZEC, further militates against the possibility of an opposition victory.

"Chances are if we go for elections in 2018, the plebiscite will be so massively rigged in favour of the incumbent ruling party to such an extent that no right-thinking person will term the election free and fair," he said.

"ZEC is simply not up to scratch. As presently constituted, it would be much easier for one to sell ice to an Eskimo than to expect ZEC to conduct a free and fair election next year. The ongoing BVR exercise has come a shed too late.

"It will definitely not be able to produce a credible and legitimate national voters' roll in time for the 2018 plebiscite. Experiences in other parts of Africa such as Uganda, Kenya, Cameroun and Namibia, show that the electoral body needed at least three years to roll out an efficient and credible biometric voter registration exercise.

Gutu said although the election is coming at a time the ruling party has become more divided over Mugabe's succession, the opposition has also been weakened by a number of factors.

Without specifying the time, he suggested it was therefore important that the nation consider pushing forward the election until the voters' roll is ready and other proposed electoral reforms have been addressed.

Opposition weak, divided

"Is there any harm in postponing the elections a little bit in order to make sure that we have a credible and reliable national voters' roll?" queried Gutu.

"This is certainly worth considering because it might turn out to be politically reckless and economically disastrous to stampede the country into a hurried and ill-prepared election.

"The current opposition, in whatever form or nature it appears, is solidly ill-prepared to solely resolve the deeply-rooted political and socio-economic challenges facing the country. We are terribly under-funded and rather ill-organised and in some cases, actually deeply divided amongst ourselves.

"We have to bite the bullet and accept that we have got a very long way to go before a genuinely free and fair election can be held in Zimbabwe. What's the point of trying to put lipstick on a frog? A frog will always remain a frog, with or without lipstick."

In previous elections, opposition parties have complained about systematic rigging by Mugabe through ghost voters, use of state resources to fund elections, voter intimidation and harassment, unfair coverage of candidates by state media and political incarceration.

Although there has been significant contestation to Mugabe's leadership from within his Zanu PF party ranks resulting in the sacking of dozens of senior party members, the opposition also faces ructions, divisions and donor fatigue--factors which have left them unable to compete with a better resourced Zanu PF on voter mobilisation.

While highlighting the possibility of taking the legal route, Gutu proposed that stakeholders meet to consider alternatives and secure the stability of Zimbabwe.

"This writer is not, by any stretch of the imagination, proposing that Zimbabwe should have a GNU (Government of National Unity) 2; not at all," he said.

"A team of reputable negotiators from across the political, civil society and even religious divide has to be urgently put in place to discuss the various scenarios that will effectively extricate Zimbabwe from the prevailing political and socio - economic cataclysm," he said.

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