19 January 2018

Zimbabwe: 'Free Elections a Pipedream'

Photo: CAJ
Zimbabwe President, His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa

CONCERNS have been raised about Zimbabwe's capacity to ensure free and fair elections after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced this week that polls will be held earlier than previously anticipated, in four to five months' time.

Speaking during his visit to Mozambique this week, Mnangagwa said the early elections would be peaceful.

MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said the opposition party is ready for elections, but raised concerns on the lack of reforms on the ground.

"We are ready for elections. We are the most popular party but our concerns are on the conditions for a free and fair election," Gutu said yesterday.

He cited the example of an interview he did with the national broadcaster ZBC on the issue of elections which was not aired as an indication that the conditions are not conducive for a free and fair outcome. Gutu alleged that villagers are being forced to surrender their voter registration slips to Zanu PF activists. He also alleged that 2 000 soldiers have been sent into the villages where they are campaigning in civilian attire for Zanu PF, rendering a free and fair election impossible.

"There is a serious mismatch between the sweet things the government says and what is on the ground," Gutu said.

MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said the party has begun preparing for elections. He said his party was campaigning in conjunction with the MDC Alliance in Harare this weekend. He said the opposition parties under the umbrella of the MDC Alliance will engage Mnangagwa on the need to deliver on the promised electoral reforms before the make-or-break polls.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network director Rindai Chipfunde Vava said the elections should be held with a "complete and accurate" voters' registration. She stressed the need for a free and fair election where constitutional rights are observed and where all political parties will have equitable access to the media.

She said only a free and fair election will give the new dispensation legitimacy. Past elections have been marred by violence, allegations of voter intimidation and rigging.

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