No to elections, Zimbabwe still fragile; Civic society

Harare, – President Robert Mugabe is insisting on elections this year despite resistance from the Zimbabwe civic society organisations and the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).\r\n

A group of nongovernmental organisations agreed on a position paper that said the Southern Africa Development Community must allow a permanent powerful implementing authority to be stationed in the country so that all agreed Global Political Agreement issues are implemented without fail. They said the security sector must be reformed without failure.

The position was adopted by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, National Association of non-Governmental Organisations, National Constitutional Assembly, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade unions, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Zimbabwe National Students Union. The civic organisations discussed their position on Tuesday.

“We call for the establishment of a SADC monitoring team in Zimbabwe with full investigative powers…and ensure full implementation of the provisions of the GPA. We demand an end to all forms of violence, intimidation and hate speech by all parties in Zimbabwe. Parties must publicly commit themselves to non-violent methods. All structures of violence must be dismantled with immediate effect and all perpetrators of violence must be made to account,” the civic organisations said.

“We call on the demilitarisation of the political and electoral processes before the holding of any election elections. The security sector (military, police, and state intelligence) must refrain from engaging and interfering with the electoral processes.”

The civic groups said elections must not be held for the sake of holding them. They said an unfair election will be disputed like the 2008 elections which later formed the coalition government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that has been failing to resolve sticking GPA disagreements.

“Zimbabwe is a fragile state; serious consideration must be given to the timing of the next elections. Elections must not be held for their own sake, but must be meaningful, where each vote counts and given voluntarily. As it is, the country’s institutional and legal infrastructure as well as the psychology of the people is not ready for what will certainly be a critical and hotly contested election. Elections in the absence of the above mentioned conditions will not yield the desired result, rather it will lead to another inconclusive and disputed election,” the organisations said.

Mugabe in an interview with a newspaper owned by the Namibian and Zimbabwe government said elections are going ahead this year. He said; “We should not delay the process any further than necessary. We have now said to ourselves let’s establish timelines…and we see whether the timelines required cannot be fitted into 2011. If they can be fitted in 2011 then we go ahead.”

Zimbabwe was pushed off the agenda of the regional SADC summit set for tomorrow in Windhoek, Namibia as facilitator of the country’s talks; South African President Jacob Zuma will not be attending the meeting. Zuma was to present a report on the status of the talks.