Opposition parties push for Sadc petition

POLITICAL parties under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) banner are pushing for a one-million-signature petition to be submitted to Sadc to push the government into adopting electoral reforms ahead of polls in 2018.


TZ leader Jacob Ngarivhume

TZ leader Jacob Ngarivhume

Opposition Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) leader Jacob Ngarivhume yesterday said his party was leading the initiative with the petition set to be taken to neighbouring Botswana in April before South Africa and the rest of the regional bloc’s membership.

Ngarivhume said the priority for democratic forces in Zimbabwe was to have a clean voters’ roll to avoid a disputed election next year.

“As Transform Zimbabwe, we came up with the idea, which we have since sold to our partners in Nera and they have also agreed to sign it so that we can then hand it over to Sadc leaders collectively,” he said.

“Other partners are coming in and whoever is interested to come aboard and be part of that process to Sadc, then they are welcome.”

The TZ leader said he was not discouraged by the previous disappointing reaction by Sadc on other political issues.

“We might have challenges with Sadc, like in the past, but the truth is they are a regional bloc that we need to engage. We believe they are an important partner in the region that we can go to with our grievances,” he said, adding that they were aware of challenges posed by biometric voting in other countries.

Besides the petition, Ngarivhume said they would also take the legal route should the government persist on not implementing the reforms.

Ngarivhume castigated the government for trying to frustrate the adoption of the biometric voter registration (BVR) system and to abandon plans to have the United Nations Development Programme procure the kits.

He said as opposition parties they would resist the procurement of the BVR kits by the government through the State Procurement Board.

The opposition leader said various measures had been put in place to ensure that people register to vote.

Ngarivhume said they had chosen to work with MDC-T in the proposed coalition.

“We need to appreciate that the MDC-T is one of the main opposition parties in the country and they have won an election before in 2008 and we understand by 74% as we are being told now.

“We respect them for that and a coalition that will not include a political party like MDC-T may not easily reach its objective. They have been the sole main opposition party and they are one of the partners we are talking to,” Ngarivhume said.