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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai, in Year-End Speech, Says No Reform, No Elections

  • Tatenda Gumbo
  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Prime Minister Tsvangirai said lawmakers are well behind schedule on their legislative reform agenda, with only seven of 24 key bills that were expected to be passed this year brought to the floor

Delivering an end-of-year speech to the Zimbabwean Parliament on Thursday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the inclusive government remains dysfunctional and that many reforms must be implemented before new elections can be considered.

The prime minister complained that critical electoral, political and media reforms which would ensure any new elections would be free and fair - unlike the disastrous 2008 ballot - have not been implemented by the government in which his Movement for Democratic Change shares power with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

Tsvangirai said that although the Cabinet had adopted an implementation matrix with time limits, lawmakers are well behind schedule on their legislative reform agenda, with only seven of 24 key bills that were expected to be passed this year brought to the floor.

Mr. Tsvangirai said 2012 should not be characterized by rhetoric about early elections before essential reforms are in place, alluding to the call by President Mugabe at the recent ZANU-PF annual conference for elections to be held without fail next year.

Mr. Tsvangirai said there simply has not been enough progress on reforms mandated by the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing to call a vote.

Political analyst Nkululeko Sibanda, a lecturer in Global and African Politics at the University of Huddersfield in Great Britain, told VOA reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that he sees more trouble in the unity government next year.

The prime minister's speech was a familiar litany of complaints about the dysfunctionality of the unity government and the intransigence of governing partners - Mr. Tsvangirai did not mention Mr. Mugabe or ZANU-PF by name, though he singled out Information Minister Webster Shamu of ZANU-PF as a foot-dragger on media reform.

For perspective on the speech, VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo spoke with members of Parliament Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, representing Mwenzi East, and Deputy Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Senator Obert Gutu of Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC formation.

Gutu said he agrees the unity government is dysfunctional, opining that the lion’s share of the blame must fall to Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.

He echoed the sentiments of Mr. Tsvangirai calling for GPA reforms that would ensure all parties a level playing field and help the country hold free and fair elections.

Bhasikiti agreed the government is dysfunctional but urged Mr. Tsvangirai to heed the president's call for elections in 2012, saying that if Mr. Tsvangirai considers the unity government to be unworkable the only solution is to replace it through elections.

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