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27 January 2012
AU: Pressure Zimbabwe to Adequately Prepare for
Non-violent, Free and Fair Elections
We, Zimbabwe civil society organizations under the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition banner, wish to inform the African Union leadership that Zimbabwe has not yet instituted sufficient reforms to guarantee democratic, non-violent, free and fair elections. The constitutional reform process is yet to be finalized while several critical legislative and electoral reforms remain outstanding. The infrastructure responsible for widespread electoral violence remains intact and active and the leadership of army and the security forces remain extremely politicized and blatantly partisan towards the former sole ruling party Zanu PF.
We believe in African solutions to African problems but fear that the African Union maybe too weak or timid to step up to the plate to decisively deal with the political conflict in Zimbabwe before it degenerates further. Various institutions of the AU including the incoming Political Affairs Commissioner, the Panel of the Wise, and the Peace and Security Council should all be more actively involved in an assessment of the political and electoral situation in Zimbabwe in order to anticipate and prevent conflict that may come as a result of flawed elections.
While we are strongly opposed and indefinate perpetuation of a dysfunctional Inclusive government, we are emphatically opposed to going to elections under the same conditions of violence and intimidation as we did in 2008. Democratic transition and political transformation in will only take place in Zimbabwe with decisive action and support from both SADC and the AU.
We therefore call upon the AU, as a guarantor of Zimbabwe's Global Political Agreement (GPA) and coalition government to put on public record its unwavering commitment to ensuring that Zimbabwe gets full support to deliver credible, democratic elections that meet the AU's Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa. Specifically, the AU must pressure Zimbabwe to institute the following reforms ahead of elections:
- A new, democratic constitution accompanied by critical electoral reforms such as an updated and accurate voters' roll, guarantees for media freedoms, equal access by all political parties to state-controlled media during elections and promotion of gender equality. Urgent legislative reforms should include repealing or amending all legislation that hinders free political activity.
- All soldiers currently deployed across the country must be returned and confined to their barracks and all service chiefs must issue a public statement committing themselves to restricting their activities to their constitutional mandate and to totally separate themselves from politics and from interference in political and electoral affairs.
- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its Secretariat Staff, charged with elections management, must be completely demilitarized, independent, professional, adequately resourced with direct technical support from SADC and the AU to enable it to impartially discharge its mandate.
- Before Zimbabwe can set a date for elections, the AU and SADC must independently examine and certify that the environment is conducive to holding non-violent, free and fair elections. The elections must be robustly monitored and observed by local, regional and international groups who should have unfettered access to all parts of the country.
- Together with SADC and the UN, the AU should deploy peace-keeping monitors to Zimbabwe at least three months ahead of elections to prevent state-sponsored violence and intimidation and to guarantee peaceful transfer of power to the eventual winner of the elections. The peace-keeping monitors should remain on the ground a further three months after elections have been held.
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