South African President Jacob Zuma says it will be disastrous for Zimbabwe to hold general elections without sweeping political and electoral reforms.
President Zuma, who is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator in Harare, said failure to draft a new constitution and introduce necessary reforms will lead to a repeat of the 2008 presidential election violence which led to the death of more than 200 members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The election violence was allegedly perpetrated by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and so-called war veterans of the 1970s liberation war.
The independent NewsDay
newspaper reported that President Zuma, who was speaking on eTV’s Africa 360 program Wednesday, said the three political parties in Zimbabwe’s shaky unity government together with SADC should map the way forward in creating a conducive environment for holding free and fair elections.
The 2008 presidential poll was described by most observers as a sham after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission failed to announce the results for almost one month.
Zimbabwe is expected to hold general elections next year and the two MDC formations have been calling for extensive reforms ahead of the vote.
Independent political analyst Dewa Mavhinga told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri more needs to be done by Harare to ensure the polls are held in a violent free environment, including arresting and prosecuting perpetrators of violence.
The constitution-making process is still mired in controversy as the ruling parties continue fighting over the contents of the draft constitution compiled by a parliamentary committee.
An all-stakeholders constitutional conference to publicly discuss the draft document is slated for the end of this month.
The two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have endorsed the draft which dilutes the powers of the president and embraces devolution, among other issues.
President Robert Mugabe’s party has rejected some of these provisions and compiled its own document which trashes most of its contents.
The MDCs have rejected the Zanu PF proposals saying the draft constitution adopted by the parties is no longer negotiable.