President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party are headed for a showdown with the Southern African Development Community and the United Nations over the supervision and funding of elections that they insist should be held this year.
Sources said the United Nations Development Program has approached Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa of ZANU-PF offering to fund and supervise the elections. Britain has also expressed readiness to fund the elections road-map still being drafted.
But ZANU-PF party hardliners said none of the proposals are acceptable. They accuse the UN of having used its supervisory role in Ivory Coast to side with Alassane Ouattara, recognized by the international community as the winner, and to oust the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, for fighting “the imperialist West.”
ZANU-PF hardliners are said to be wary of a SADC supervisory role. Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said ZANU-PF is not comfortable with Western intervention.
But Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga said Harare must accept outside supervision in order for the elections to regain legitimacy.
The Institute for Democracy in Africa, meanwhile, has urged SADC to put teeth in the elections road-map being drafted by negotiators for the unity government parties.
IDASA said the road map will be no more effective than the Global Political Agreement for power sharing unless it stipulates clear consequences violations of its terms.
The group urged South African President Jacob Zuma, SADC’s mediator in the perennial Harare political crisis, to present SADC with conditions and benchmarks for an electoral road-map that is recognized by all the unity government principals.
IDASA emphasized however that SADC must take a role to enforce the new political document through its implementation as elections are called and held.
Political analysts said the proposal has merit, but questioned SADC’s ability to enforce rules set out in an electoral planning document. Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said the lack of power to enforce agreements is one of SADC's weaknesses.
Meanwhile, villagers in Tsholotsho district, Matabeleland North province, said they are living in fear following the deployment of soldiers and militia members there recently. Locals believe the deployment has been carried out for electoral purposes.
Relief worker and Tsholotsho resident Zenzo Ndawana said weekend deployments left local villagers apprehensive as the forces remind them of the Fifth Brigabe implicated in the killing of thousands in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the 1980s.
The so-called Gukurahundi purge began as a conflict between two liberation factions but led to massacres of civilians. A church study estimated 20,000 people died.
VOA was unable to obtain an explanation from Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa or senior armed forces officials. Ndawana said villagers want the government to order the withdrawal of the soldiers and militia members from Tsholotsho.
Elsewhere, police late Monday released 12 of 13 people detained Saturday at a prayer meeting in Harare and charged with public violence. But sources said police continued to hold Shakespeare Mukoyi, a member of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Morgan Tsvangirai on charges of assaulting a police officer.
Police detained four pastors and nine others in the raid on a church in the Glen Norah section of Harare where the meeting was called to pray for peace in Zimbabwe.
Lawyer Marufu Mandevere, representing the 13, said some of those released, including two pastors, were severely beaten while in detention. Sources said Mukoyi, who was expected to be arraigned on Wednesday, was in serious condition.
The Christian Alliance, which organized the prayer meeting, said it intends to meet with Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri this week to lodge a complaint about the police disruption of the meeting and the alleged mistreatment of those detained.
The group said it will also file a report with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, set up to gauge compliance with the Global Political Agreement.
Christian Alliance Organizing Secretary Bishop Ancelimo Magaya said the organization regretfully noted the partisan and selective application of the law by police.