SA ready to assist Zim with elections

2013-05-14 15:17

South Africa will provide financial assistance to cash-strapped Zimbabwe to hold elections, International Relations Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim has said.

It was the responsibility of not only South Africa, but the Southern African Development Community to ensure free elections were held in Zimbabwe, Ebrahim told reporters in Pretoria today.

“There is the question of Zimbabwe having enough funding to hold a successful election. If South Africa is requested to assist in whatever way, we will definitely assist,” he said.

“(We will assist) either through funding part of the election or through some logistical assistance. It is in our interest and (that of) the region to see a free and fair election taking place.”

Last week, Zimbabwe’s lower house of Parliament approved a draft Constitution, which was endorsed in a March referendum, paving the way for new elections.

The charter is expected to be rubber-stamped by the senate when it is presented today, before being passed to President Robert Mugabe (89) for his assent.

It removes the president’s immunity after leaving office, bolsters the power of the courts, and sets up a peace and reconciliation commission tasked with post-conflict justice and healing.

It also limits a president’s tenure to two five-year terms, curtails presidential powers and abolishes the post of prime minister.

Regarding the contentious election date, Ebrahim said there was need for appropriate reforms to be implemented before the polls.

“I think the opposition has a legitimate argument to say there should be proper progression for the election,” he said.

“There have to be certain reforms that need to be speeded up. If Zanu-PF says (polls) should be held in June or July, that is probably playing politics.

All parties should agree that the time is ripe for an election.”

Ebrahim said a regional election monitoring group should be deployed to Zimbabwe before the elections.

“There may be a little bit of intimidation here and there, knowing the history of Zimbabwe. The election results should reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Presidential elections will end the shaky unity government formed between Mugabe and his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai following disputed polls in 2008.

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