ZIMBABWE – Pressure is mounting on President Robert Mugabe’s administration to allow for the monitoring or even running of Zimbabwe’s 2018 election by “impartial organisations”.
Following reports the European Union (EU) is pushing for a United Nations-monitored election, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has thrown in another proposal.
PDP leader Tendai Biti yesterday said Sadc should oversee the election.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), three years later, still does not have the voters’ roll used for the 2013 poll on their website. We will actually be going to court to push for that, but this incapacity should indicate to us that there are failings at Zec,” he said.
“Given this situation, we propose that Zec be placed under the curatorship of Sadc and allow the regional body to preside over the elections. It will not be the first time this has happened. Sadc has previously run the polls in Lesotho.”
The PDP leader said his party was also demanding a “fresh biometric voters’ roll with the minimum being the use of fingerprints”.
Biti’s call comes hard on the heels of reports that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has scoffed at the EU’s proposal to have the UN take charge of the impending poll.
“Our position as Zimbabwe has not changed. We are a sovereign State and we run our own elections like a sovereign State and we choose who will observe our elections. We have not been approached by the EU to say they wish the UN to observe our elections,” Mnangagwa was quoted saying.
But Biti said Zimbabwe as a member of the UN, had benefited from assistance, both technically and financially, from the world body’s agencies.
“Zimbabwe is a member of the UN, benefits from its agencies across the board, but becomes selective when it comes to issues of election observation and monitoring. Our problem is that the government is insincere,” he said.
Biti lashed out at Mnangagwa for trying to “drag the country back to the 13th century”.
“It is disgusting and unacceptable and this coming from someone with aspirations to be the country’s President,” he said.
He also called for the demilitarisation of the election management system.
“We want a complete overhaul of the election management system. The military generals should be a million miles away from elections and the use of voting slips banished. We all know what happened with those little pieces of paper in 2013,” the former Finance minister said.
Sadc was the guarantor of Zimbabwe’s shaky coalition government between 2009 and 2013.
This was in the aftermath of an inconclusive and bloody poll in 2008 that opposition parties claim led to the maiming and deaths of over 300 activists and disappearance of hundreds others following a military-led crackdown.
Mugabe had lost the first round of voting to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.