Zimbabwe

Will Zim hold free and fair polls?

2013-03-21 08:11
 A man reads a copy of Zimbabwes draft constitution. (AFP)

A man reads a copy of Zimbabwes draft constitution. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Special Report

Grace Mugabe set to take key Zanu-PF position
Grace Mugabe set to take key Zanu-PF position

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace, has reportedly accepted a nomination for the position of secretary of Zanu-PF's Women's League, marking her first move into frontline politics.

Harare - With a new constitution approved, Zimbabweans are now looking toward a fresh general election, while wondering whether the polls will be free and fair.

The overwhelming nod for the charter at a weekend referendum raised much optimism for democratic changes in a country long regarded by the West as a pariah state.

The new supreme law protects against all forms of violence and torture and guarantees freedom of expression. But observers say there is little in it that directly affects the way elections are run.

"The constitution does very little to affect electoral conditions," said Zimbabwean legal and political analyst Derek Matyszak.

"If people are thinking the new constitution is going to create conditions for free and fair elections they are going to be very disappointed."

The scars of election chaos are still fresh in Zimbabwe.

Disputed 2008 polls claimed nearly 200 lives and forced President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai into a regionally-brokered power-sharing government to prevent a full blown conflict.

With a major hurdle toward fresh polls cleared by Saturday's vote, Zimbabweans are expected to return to the ballot box later this year.

The adoption of the new text, which curtails the president's powers and sets a limit of two five-year terms, left both leaders of the compromise government beaming.

"That's the type of constitution we want," Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, told Zimbabwean state media in Rome where he was attending Pope Francis's inaugural mass.

New energy

His rival Tsvangirai said the new supreme law "sets in motion a new and democratic paradigm for the country".

Political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe Charity Manyeruke said that the draft did give Zimbabweans a new impetus to respect laws despite little change in the way elections are carried out.

"What the draft constitution does is to give confidence ... new energy, new commitment to follow the rule of law, to follow the dictates of the constitution in the conduct of the elections."

Confident of a peaceful vote, she said: "People are tired of violence."

The constitution dictates that the security sector, which is currently staffed with mainly Mugabe's sympathisers, must remain impartial.

But without provisions to enforce this, questions have been raised.

"There is no doubt that without the proper security sector reforms the forthcoming plebiscite would not be free, fair and credible," said an editorial in the NewsDay on Wednesday.

The paper said that if Mugabe "is sincere about his persistent calls for peace, then he should spearhead the chlorination of the security sector".

This had been acknowledged by the Southern African Development Community, the curator of the coalition government, as needing "urgent attention".

The referendum weekend saw police raids and the arrest of Tsvangirai aides and his party's attorney. There were also isolated violent incidents against both political sides in the vote run-up.

Tensions

Repeated calls by Mugabe and Tsvangirai to shun violence bring hope that "we are likely to have a credible election", said Joseph Kurebga, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

While politicians up their rhetoric around peace, there is a resurgence of intra-party violence as members jostle for spots in party primaries, said Thabani Nyoni, a rights campaigner in Bulawayo.

Such tensions could escalate across rival parties, he said.

"All those are clear signs that the ghost of violence of 2008 could repeat itself," said Nyoni of Radio Dialogue, a civil society organisation.

University of Johannesburg professor of development studies David Moore said levels of violence will likely escalate in the run up to the high-stakes elections.

"But I don't think they will be as high as in 2008 because that was a catastrophe," he said.

The election is likely to be close amid growing disillusionment with Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.

The party "will have to work as hard as Obama did against the Republicans" to remain competitive, said Moore.

- AFP

Read more on:    sadc  |  robert mugabe  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
47 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Cape Town - 16:58 PM
    Road name: Nelson Mandela Boulevard Outbound
    STATIONARY VEHICLE in the left lane before Hospital Bend - DELAYS from Strand Street
  • Tuesday Brackenfell - 16:53 PM
    Road name: Old Paarl Road Eastbound
    DELAYS approaching the R300 Highway
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 10.1" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives you a better experience for...

From R4999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come up to alert you of your security needs. It may be that you need to create a better structure for your finances...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.