Zimbabwe election date tussle gets serious (+video)
Opposition politicians say President Robert Mugabe is using a constitutional court's call for an early date to achieve an unconstitutional outcome.
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Yet opposition parties and political analysts accuse Mugabe of rigging the game.Skip to next paragraph
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"We want security sector and media reforms before we can talk of any elections,” says Abednico Bhebhe, deputy national secretary at the opposition MDC-T party. “How can we hold free and fair elections in an environment where soldiers tell people that they will not accept certain results and journalists are arrested, harassed, beaten and intimidated for writing about certain individuals and political parties.
"We are more than ready for the elections and have always said that even if it were to be held tomorrow, in three months, in three weeks, or in three years, we will still be ready, provided all the key reforms agreed to in the GPA are implemented,” he added.
Mugabe’s former minister of home affairs, Dumiso Dabengwa, who has left the ruling Zanu party to form his own party, Zapu, believes the country is not ready for elections without a complete overhaul of the voters' role.
"We cannot hold elections with the current voters' role, which has been patched and mended time and again. Some of the names included in that voters' roll are for people that died more than 100 years ago," said Mr. Dabengwa.
Human Rights Watch's Africa Advocacy Director, Tiseke Kasambala, believes all the progress scored by Zimbabwe's inclusive government would be "null and void" without security sector reforms.
She warned that Southern African Development Community leaders' lackadaisical approach to enforcing the reforms could see the country slide back to the post-election violence of 2008, depending on who wins.
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She believes SADC leaders could stop that if they drew a code of conduct stipulating that the security forces remain impartial and that they would not interfere with the election process, citing recent inflammatory public statements issued by some security services chiefs against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. She said this could translate to widespread violence after the polls, especially if Mugabe were to lose.
"The explicit nature of statements from senior members of the police and army have been very worrying. We have heard them issue very inflammatory words against Morgan Tsvangirai, like calling him a psychiatric patient, a sell-out, and a puppet of the West. We fear that such statements could translate to widespread violence," said Kasambala.