Zim not ready for elections - yet

2012-12-07 14:37

Harare - Zimbabwe will not be ready for a presidential election until at least June because it needs a new constitution and democratic reforms to ensure a fair and undisputed poll, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said in an interview.

President Robert Mugabe, one of Africa's longest serving rulers and accused of hanging on to power through vote-rigging, has called for a new election in March.

But coalition partners including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe's old rival, want a new constitution and electoral and media reforms after a violent and disputed poll in 2008 that was condemned by much of the world.

"Zimbabwe clearly is not ready for an election," Biti told Reuters late on Thursday during a visit to the University of Manchester in northern England.

"It's impossible to have an election in March," he said, arguing that the newly drafted constitution, as well as electoral and media reforms, would need to be introduced first to ensure the result of the poll was "credible, legitimate and sustainable".

Mugabe, 88, has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, pushing through policies including the seizure of white-owned farms and forcing foreign firms to hand over majority stakes to local blacks.


His party, Zanu-PF, is due to endorse him again as presidential candidate at its annual congress on Friday.

Biti, secretary general of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, said he hoped a referendum on the constitution could be held in the first quarter of 2013, paving the way for an election between June and August.

"We will limp our way to some form of acceptable agreement," he said. "Our people are tired. They want a solution. They want peace. So I think we will reach an agreement because everyone is exhausted."

Biti called on Zimbabwe's neighbours and international partners - starting with South African President Jacob Zuma - to play an active role in ensuring the process goes smoothly and help support the cost of the referendum and election, estimated at between $150 million and $250 million.

Should Zimbabwe have "a decent election", Biti said, growth could reach 7.2%, helped by rising prices of platinum, chrome and gold, all of which Zimbabwe produces. 


Diamond revenues have been a source of conflict within the coalition government. A gem watchdog last month said at least $2bn of diamonds from Zimbabwe's Marange fields - one of the world's largest deposits - had been smuggled by people linked to Mugabe's party.

When asked about the issue, Biti said: "I don't have evidence of that. The evidence I have is that diamonds are being mined and we are not getting the revenue."

Diamond output has more than doubled since 2011 and diamond exports reached $600m in October, but the government only received $41m of diamond revenues this year, Biti said.

"If these were to be accounted openly, we'd at least be entitled to 50% of those $600m. $300m would make a lot of difference in my life as finance minister."

  • ThaboMdodo - 2012-12-07 14:42

    The people of Zim should stop voting for a tribe and start voting for a party!! Get old man Bob out, get rid of corrupt MDC and start creating smaller parties that represent the people instead of tribes. History tells us they will eventually merge and share the qualities of the smaller parties they consist of.

      gerhard.muller.988 - 2012-12-07 16:01

      Good comment!! And if you replace "Zim" with "South Africa", your comment is still valid and still spot on!!

      zapadela.tistarocha - 2012-12-07 16:18

      Trust some south park wannabe to bring RSA into a Zim article

  • natomajo - 2012-12-07 15:10

    They are never ready, violence will erupt as it did in the previous polls... Solution to this is one, kill the dictator... Period

      zapadela.tistarocha - 2012-12-07 16:17

      Kill Kill Kill......That's the Answer ...ay Mate ????

  • asdhasgd - 2012-12-07 15:24

    I dont get it. There are millions in zimbabwe and there is only so much security...why doesnt everyone just storm into uncle bob's compound and kill him??

      zapadela.tistarocha - 2012-12-07 16:16

      Cos' NP tactics are frowned upon

      bheki.moyo.39 - 2012-12-07 18:26

      Its not as easy as saying abc.Mugabe is guarded by well trained snipers every minute,why don't you try it for us. We will give you money if you win.

  • Anthony C. Onwudiegwu - 2012-12-07 15:35

    Power, afluence and wealth when tested become so difficult to letgo. who is speaking about delaying election now and why bottlenecks should be created for them to further hang on to power a little longer? Western influence, interest and bid to hang onto African wealth sometimes outweigh political will of the those who find themselves among the rulling class..

  • andremandela.julias - 2012-12-07 15:43

    Looking fwd to moving back to our farm in Rhodesia after the Zim elections.

      zapadela.tistarocha - 2012-12-07 16:02

      I suggest if you continue calling Zimbabwe Rhodesia in Zimbabwe, You will be looking forward to another eventuality...

      zamani.ndlovu.5203 - 2012-12-07 16:20

      Ddnt they tell u the land reform pragramme z ova yo stupid heard.u lost in zim.u wl lose too in sa

  • Vaughan - 2012-12-07 16:10

    Love it, "accused of hanging on to power through vote-rigging". He lost the last election and only through killing MDC supporters is still in power.

  • Mbuso Siera - 2012-12-07 16:15

    the DA nd its madams with their media must leave SA nd go settle in Zim......

      paul.chick.501 - 2012-12-07 16:56

      @Mbuso..thats such a useless stupid comment ! I mean what has that even got to do with the subject ? Or did aparthied make you say that ? ......Nope i think you just stupid

  • Stefan Erasmus - 2012-12-07 19:25

    Mbuso we wil then you faaaaaks we follow us after you f...up SA.

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