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S. Africa's Zuma to Lobby African Union to Tap Brakes on Zimbabwe Elections

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says the party has appealed to Mr Zuma to ensure among other things that the voters roll is updated

South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Zimbabwe for the Southern African Development Community, will seek support from African Union leaders meeting in summit this week to dissuade President Robert Mugabe from calling snap elections this year.

Diplomatic and political sources said Mr. Zuma is pushing for the implementation of many reforms before elections are held, including the drafting and ratification of a new constitution, and electoral measures such as overhaul of the voters roll.

But Mr. Zuma is on a collision course with Mr. Mugabe who has threatened to dissolve Parliament and call elections with or without a new constitution in place, expressing his impatience with the protracted process of drafting a new constitution.

Diplomatic sources say there are widespread fears a new round of elections before reforms would lead to a repeat of the political violence seen in 2008 balloting.

Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Zuma are both expected to arrive at the AU summit Saturday.

Zuma foreign policy advisor Lindiwe Zulu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that Zimbabawe is not on the AU agenda but it will be discussed informally.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says the party has appealed to Mr Zuma to ensure among other things that the voters roll is updated. Many voters listed on it are deceased.

Chamisa said that "for this country to hold any free, fair and credible election there is need for an impartial, professional and independent board, contracted to come up with a fresh, biometric digitalised voter’s roll, as is the trend in civilised countries."

He added that the MDC wants a "comprehensive, accurate and credible voters’ roll as a prerequisite for the coming elections" and any other ballot to be held. A referendum on a new constitution is supposed to precede elections, but that sequence is in doubt.

In other domestic political developments, representatives of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee set up to measure compliance with the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing stepped in after two members of the MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube were threatened then violently attacked.

District Executive Gift Nengomasha and Phibion Dziva, an MDC activist, were targeted on Sunday in Chitungwiza, 25 kilometers south of Harare, by youths who according to MDC spokesman Nhlanhla Dube claimed to belong to Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Nengomasha was assaulted and his home destroyed. Dziva sustained injuries.

Dziva sought medical attention after the episode but could not do so without a police report. The police refused to give him one, the MDC activist alleged.

MDC spokesman Dube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that with the police failing to respond, party officials asked the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee to intervene and the panel sent a representative to investigate.

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