Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (27)

Column 27


President Robert Mugabe has done what he said he would do: unilaterally declare the election date, namely July 31, thus causing a new political crisis amid the outrage of his two coalition partners, whom he informed by letter of his decision.(1)

Mugabe also announced that candidates would be nominated on June 28th. He further used his presidential powers to fast-track amendments to the Electoral Act, without Parliament. He also unilaterally cut the registration of voters currently under way to end earlier than on July 9th, as had been agreed. It is the first time Mugabe has used his presidential decree since the coalition government was formed.

Mugabe claimed he had to act in compliance with the Constitutional Court ruling, which had instructed him to hold the election by the end of July, in response to a case brought by Jealousy Mawarire, director of the Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa, a NGO close to Zanu. The President has thus cleverly used the new Constitutional Court to outwit his opponents, who had wanted time for reforms under the Global Political Agreement (GPA).(2)

The leaders of the MDC factions, Premier Morgan Tsvangirai and Prof. Welshman Ncube, expressed their anger at what Ncube called deceit, pointing out it had been agreed in cabinet on the 11th June that the amendments would be sent to Parliament. Tsvangirai, who also issued a statement on the issue (3), decided to take urgent legal action, not to contest the Constitutional Court ruling but to ask the Court to review whether Mugabe acted in accordance with the Constitution.(4) Before Mugabe's proclamation, two claims by citizens had been filed, claiming the July election date violated their rights.(5) A Mozambique civic group has pointed out that Zimbabwe would transgress SADC rules if it calls for election by July 31.(6)

Now it is up to SADC:

Mugabe's move is a slap in the face of SADC. Analysts had previously said that the forthcoming summit would be a test to see if the regional organisation can stand up to Mugabe.(7) SADC point man on Zimbabwe, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, had been determined to push for reforms before elections.(9) Zanu-PF had criticised SADC for "wasting time" and sticking its nose into Zimbabwe affairs. (8) The SADC summit on Zimbabwe scheduled first for June 9th, then postponed at President Robert Mugabe's request while on his Far Eastern tour to June 10th, was finally set for June 15th in Maputo. (10) Mugabe had rejected suggestions of June 12th as he chaired a cabinet meeting that day and that of his Zanu-PF Politburo the next. As cabinet meetings had often been postponed during Mugabe's absence, it seemed as if the Zimbabwe President was not anxious to meet his SADC colleagues.(11) As it turned out, he planned to confront the summit with a fait accompli regarding the election.

Measures for which Mugabe opponents are lobbying include a cleaned voters' roll, credible observer groups and curbs on the security forces and biased reporting, particularly by state-owned media. Premier Morgan Tsvangirai has hinted that he would boycott the elections if reforms were not implemented.(12)

Parliamentarians raised numerous questions following the President's announcement, with some Zanu-PF members agreeing with MDC MPs that the July 31st date was not feasible.(13)

It is unlikely that international observers will be invited, as the US and other countries including Germany had urged.(14)

Voters roll

The registration of voters which began on June 11th ran into trouble from the start, with accusations that the Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede is using it to rig the elections. Some registration offices were not open, others were inadequately staffed and overwhelmed by the mass of voters. Insufficient notice was given of dates and venues for registration.(15) Mudede appeared before a Parliamentary Committee to explain the problems over the registration of voters, apparently without any effect.(16)

It had been ruled that youths without IDs and people registered as "aliens" can now register, but aliens were turned away en masse and advised to apply to army headquarters and police for clearance.(17). The issue of dual citizenship has not yet been settled, with the new constitution unclear on this issue.(18) The Constitutional Court postponed indefinitely a case by a Zimbabwean citizen in exile appealing for postal votes for exiled citizens.(19)

MDC-T urged Zimbabweans to return and vote in the forthcoming elections.(20) However, many Zimbabweans eager to return for the elections from South Africa are hampered by the slow issue of passports.(21)

Election Campaign

Several smaller parties have signaled their willingness to back Premier Morgan Tsvangirai in the next election.(22) MDC-N leader Welshman Ncube, who has so far refused to join an election pact. (23) Tsvangirai openly offered to join hands with Ncube in an electoral pact.(24)

The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) launched its Code of Conduct for parties and their leaders during the election campaign.(25) MDC-T requested Jomic to intervene in a terror campaign launched against its supporters by Zanu-PG thugs in Insiza North and Matebeleland South.(26)

  1. SW Radio Africa 13.6
  2. Zim.Independent 13.6, Reuters 13.6, Telegraph UK 13.6
  3. Zim. Independent 13.6
  4. SW Radio Africa 13.6, New Zimbabwe 12.6
  5. SW Radio Africa 12.6
  6. New Zimbabwe 9.6
  7. Mail and Guardian 7.6, Voice of America Zim. 7.6, 8.6, Zim. Mail 7.6
  8. Voice of America Zim. 8.6
  9. SW Radio Africa 7.6, Daily News 7.6
  10. SW Radio Africa 12.6,Voice of America 8.6, Zim.Mail 8.6
  11. Daily News 10.6
  12. New Zimbabwe 7.6
  13. SW Radio Africa 13.6
  14. Standard 9.6, Daily News 10.6, SW Radio Africa 11.6, Herald 10.6
  15. Voice of America Zim.11.6, SW Radio Africa 13.6
  16. Daily News 11.6
  17. Daily News 12.6
  18. SW Radio Africa 7.6,10.6
  19. SW Radio Africa 13.6
  20. Voice of America Zim 12.6
  21. The Zimbabwean 12.6
  22. Daily News 10.6
  23. Standard 9.6 Zim. Independent 7.6
  24. New Zimbabwe 12.6
  25. Daily News 11.6
  26. SW Radio Africa 12.6

Letzte Änderung: Friday, 14-Jun-2013 09:22:49 CEST [an error occurred while processing this directive]