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Forum on Zimbabwe Elections Calls for Expanded Southern African Role

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Forum panelists made clear once the constitutional revision process is completed, and if the draft is approved in a national referendum, the way will be clear for new elections

In a Washington forum marking the second anniversary of of Zimbabwe's Global Political Agreement for power sharing, representatives of the Movement for Democratic Change and the reconstituted Zimbabwe African National Union or ZAPU called for a strong monitoring effort by the Southern African Development Community whenever new elections are to be held.

Participants in the forum organized by Freedom House noted that the tumultuous 2008 presidential and general elections saw state-sanctioned violence against many opposition voters leading to the drafting and signature of the Global Political Agreement in September 2008.

Member of Parliament Innocent Gonese has been working for national security reform but said he wants more help from SADC at such time as presidential and general elections are called.

Forum panelists made clear once the constitutional revision process is completed, and if the draft is approved in a national referendum, the way will be clear for new elections.

ZAPU President Dumiso Dabengwa said political leaders themselves will also be ready.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have both expressed eagerness for elections to be called once the new constitution is in place.

But some panelists opposed early elections, saying the constitutional revision and approval process will indicate whether the country is ready for another round of balloting.

Journalist Takura Zhangazha commented that the referendum, which could be held late this year, will provide a clear indication as to whether near-term elections are advisable.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted last month by the Mass Public Opinion Institute of Zimbabwe showed the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with an edge over President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF in public support.

The Institute said it interviewed 1,062 people nationwide and found 32 percent of them backing the Tsvangirai MDC, while 18 percent voiced support for ZANU-PF.

The reformed ZAPU party garnered 2 percent, the polling group said.

The survey found that up to 40 percent of those interviewed might not vote at all.

But political analyst George Mkhwanazi cautioned in an interview with reporter Brenda Moyo that such surveys don’t necessarily reflect what voters are actually thinking.

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