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S. Africa, Obama Press for Zimbabwe Reforms

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

With Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court set to rule on the election date Thursday, South Africa has called on the court to push the polls back by at least one month so basic democratic reforms can be put in place.

The court ordered recently that polls should be held by July 31, but MDC leaders Welshman Ncube and Morgan Tsvangirai filed appeals last week seeking a delay of the vote.

South African President Jacob Zuma’s foreign adviser Lindiwe Zulu said Saturday that the Constitutional Court should “be sensitive to the process of the resolution of some of the tensions in the build-up to elections.”

She added that Harare should do all it possibly can to avoid the violence that plagued the 2008 run-off.

Speaking in South Africa at the weekend on the same subject, U.S. President Barack Obama also urged Zimbabwe to hold a free and fair election.

"Harassment of citizens and groups needs to stop and reform needs to move forward so people can cast their votes in elections that are fair and free and credible," Obama said.

Zimbabweans in general say they are waiting for the court ruling with bated breath.

The suspense has however, not stopped politicians from rallying support across the country following the registration of candidates and the dissolution of parliament last week.

National Healing Minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu of the Ncube MDC told VOA his party was cautiously optimistic that the court will punt on the polls.

"We are expecting that the Constitutional Court will be favorably responsive to the request to expend the polling day," Mzila said.

"The ruling of the court will be respected, but our expectation is that they will be sensitive to the concerns of our party in the sense that there is a roadmap that was agreed upon and clearly there are outstanding issues that were not implemented."

But Zanu PF deputy information director Psychology Maziwisa says the court should stick to its initial July 31 schedule. He took umbrage at statements by South Africa.

"These countries should desist from this practice of delving into our internal affairs and prejudging and preempting what our courts should say and all kinds of things," Maziwisa said.
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