- Last Updated on 13 March 2012
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Zimbabwe's southern neighbour, South Africa, has backed the position of Civil Society organisations that the country should hold an election after the new constitution is in place and critical reforms are carried out.
South Africa, which is the mediator in the negotiations between ZANU PF and the two MDC formations, also said it expects no deviations from the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
This comes after President Mugabe shamelessly told state media on the eve of his 88th birthday last month that he would call for fresh elections this year with or without a new constitution. He said those who were calling for reforms were cowards and vowed to reject Jacob Zuma as a mediator if he persisted on calling for reforms. Zuma has in the past reaffirmed that Zimbabwe cannot hold free and fair elections without necessary reforms, a development which flies in the face of President Robert Mugabe's assertion that polls will be held this year.
Commenting on the position by the South African government, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson, Tabani Nyoni said,
'As civil society and pro democracy advocates, we are encouraged by the statements from South Africa as the country is tasked with ensuring that there are no bloody and contested elections in Zimbabwe and there is successful transition to democracy. This is a major boost to the calls by civics for democratic elections and we encourage ZANU PF to be sincere when dealing with the people of Zimbabwe. Pro- democracy advocates should remain steadfast and demand the full implementation of the GPA and a clear election roadmap. Other African leaders should take a cue from South Africa and encourage the inclusive government to undertake much needed reforms ahead of any electoral process.'
Mugabe recently made claims that the MDC formations are sabotaging the constitution-making process in order to delay elections. However, these claims are unsubstantiated given that right from the onset of the constitution making process; ZANU PF has employed its various menacing tactics to de-rail the process including using violence and leaking COPAC documents. Furthermore, the party has thrown false accusations at the three constitution drafters saying they are smuggling clauses targeted at ousting the aging Mugabe; it has thus threatened that it will not recognise the constitution.
ZANU PF's failure to stomach what the people have said through the new constitution also proves that the party and all its affiliates do not serve the people as they purport to. Its resistance to honour the GPA and effect democratic reforms is meant to sustain Mugabe's iron-fisted rule while his bootlickers fatten their pockets at the expense of taxpayers.
Contrary to what ZANU PF wants people to believe, rushed elections in the absence of democratic reforms, will not end the country's governance problems, which it blames on the coalition government. Instead, they will be manipulated in ZANU PF's favour and will only bring about disputed results that will give the party excessive powers to govern. Also, according to a report entitled '2011 General Elections in Zimbabwe: A Panacea to Zimbabwe's Political and Governance Challenges' by the Zimbabwe Institute, Mugabe's continued rule is evidence of how uncertainty is high in his camp over what the future holds for himself and his hardliners after power is handed over to another leader, inside or outside his party.
Mugabe's clamouring for early polls is clearly for his own benefit as he fights to beat his advanced age and reported ill health. He has gathered all the support he can from the army, police and intelligence services, which have now descended on the media, NGOs and on voters intimidating them into supporting the octogenarian leader. He continues to fight a lone battle in a desperate move to outmanoeuvre his challengers while he is still able.