Early polls will trigger violence — Rights body


ZIMBABWE – A leading human rights organisation has warned of widespread violence if elections are held in March this year and encouraged the country to implement key reforms before polls.

In a report titled, Race Against Time: The Need for Legal and Institutional Reforms Ahead of Zimbabwe’s Elections, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that Zimbabwe was running out of time to implement key reforms before the holding of elections.

“With the unity government making little progress in several areas, including on key legal reforms, there are genuine concerns that if elections are held in March, there will be widespread human rights violations ahead of, during and after the elections,” HRW noted.

“Such violations will undermine a credible, free and fair vote.”
HRW advised that reforms like the conclusion of the constitution-writing exercise should be implemented before elections were held.

“Time is fast running out for the unity government to institute reforms, including finalising the new constitution and allowing time for its provisions to be implemented before elections are held,” the report continued.

The report echoes several calls, advising key reforms to be implemented ahead of elections, lest the polls morph into a non-event.

President Robert Mugabe wants elections held in March this year and has threatened to call for elections whether or not a new constitution has been adopted.

The principals — Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara — agreed on all the issues that were delaying the new constitution.

The HRW also warned that failure to implement key reforms could see a spiraling of violence, lawlessness and chaos.

“The absence of meaningful institutional reforms to facilitate full restoration of the rule of law increases concern for human rights protections ahead of Zimbabwe’s next elections,” the report continued.

Mugabe has violently suppressed his opponents in the past few elections
Mugabe has violently suppressed his opponents in the past few elections

To break the vicious cycle of human rights abuses, the organisation advised that the inclusive government must implement legislative reforms, institutional reform focusing on replacement of partisan government officials.

HRW also advised that South Africa should prevail on the inclusive government principals to ensure there was a level playing field during the next election.

The report says Sadc should also monitor the deployment of monitors ahead of any election and should strengthen the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic).

Previous efforts to galvanise Jomic have drawn a blank, as the government continues bickering on the role of commissioners seconded by the regional body.

Among reforms that must be implemented are constitutional, electoral, media and security sector reforms.

The MDC formations have often accused Zanu PF of being a stumbling block but the former ruling party has denied it.


  1. MDC's incompetency is drawing the nation into this Gaza mentality where people go out
    and throw stones at soldiers with guns, or fire home-made rockets against an enemy with helicopter guns, tanks, etc. Taking Mugabe and Zanu PF in an election process where the tyrant is free to use all the dirty tricks including wanton violence is folly.

    That is a fight Mugabe would want MDC to fight and only stupid people will allow themselves to be drawn into particularly when they have other options.

    MDC had the option of forcing through democratic reforms which would have guaranteed free and fair elections. Of course Mugabe did not want the reforms implemented but MDC should have fought tooth and nail to get the reforms implemented. SADC as the guarantors of the GPA would have stepped in and force Mugabe to accept the reforms.

    Instead of fighting Mugabe to implement the reforms the MDC cowards want the ordinary
    Zimbabweans to face the Zanu PF terror machine Zanu PF thugs, the Police, the Army, the CIO, biased judiciary, etc., in an election process everyone knows Mugabe will deploy his juggernaut!

    The people of Zimbabwe should not allow themselves to be misled by MDC into a totally meaningless fight. It is OK for Tsvangirai to be lying about the violence and posturing about fighting back, when the going gets tough we all know he will in the Netherland Embassy like a bullet – not even Usain Bolt would catch him.

    The threat of election violence is real and is already happening all over Zimbabwe. If elections are not free and fair it is the ordinary Zimbabweans who are the real losers because the government they can expect to emerge at the end of the day is at best a mediocre coalition of MDC with a Zanu PF faction or a full-fledged Zanu PF dictatorship. That is not worth risking life and limb again for!

    What Zimbabweans must do is reject the Copac rubbish and force the implementation of all the agreed reforms BEFORE elections are held. Free and fair elections, free of the usual political violence can only be guaranteed if the reforms are implemented.

    Victory is not always to those prepared to fight but for those who know when to fight and when not to fight! It is folly to engage Mugabe and Zanu PF in another blood election; first defeat him in the referendum and his juggernaut will be useless in the elections that follow.

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