Zim election not looking good: Zuma envoy

2013-07-18 20:13
(Photo: file, AFP)

(Photo: file, AFP)

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Pretoria - A top South African diplomat said on Thursday that preparations for an election in Zimbabwe at the end of the month were "not looking good", unusually strong criticism of President Robert Mugabe from his powerful neighbour.

Lindiwe Zulu, President Jacob Zuma's special adviser on Zimbabwe, said Zuma had called Mugabe to tell him he was not pleased with the run-up to the poll on 31 July, a date fixed by Mugabe after a Constitutional Court ruling.

It had been criticised by Mugabe's opponents and South Africa's government as too soon.

"We are concerned because things on the ground are not looking good," said Zulu.

The election is supposed to end five years of fractious unity government under a deal brokered by South Africa following violent and disputed polls in 2008. With the credibility of the poll already called into question, those hopes are now waning.

South Africa wants to avoid a repeat of the 2008 violence, which brought a flood of refugees into the country and added a further burden on stretched state finances.

Zulu's comments are likely to infuriate the 89-year-old Mugabe, who labelled Zulu "stupid and idiotic" at a campaign rally this month after she repeated South Africa's call to delay the polling date by a few weeks to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.

Two days of advance voting for 70 000 police officers and soldiers on Sunday and Monday suggested the fears of a chaotic election will be borne out, raising the prospect of a disputed result and civil unrest in a country with a history of election violence.


In the special voting, long lines formed at polling stations and some people were unable to vote because ballot papers did not turn up at all - one of several logistical challenges acknowledged by the Election Commission.
In addition to smooth logistics, South Africa wants cast-iron guarantees that the army and police will end their open support of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

The South African government's verdict as to the quality of the vote has added significance because election observers from the European Union and United States are barred from entering Zimbabwe.

There have been no formal opinion polls but most analysts see ZANU-PF as the favourite given its monopoly of state media and the problems with voter registration encountered by many young, urban Zimbabweans - the support base of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe's main challenger.

The United States said on Tuesday it was deeply concerned by a lack of transparency in the run-up to the vote, suggesting Washington was in no mood to ease sanctions against a victorious Mugabe and his inner circle even if he wins without violence.


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Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  lindiwe zulu  |  jacob zuma  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  zimbabwe  |  sa  |  zimbabwe election 2013

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