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Zimbabwe Finance Minister Warns of Violence if Elections Held This Year

Lindiwe Zulu, advisor to South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Harare on behalf of Southern African Development Community leaders, said her facilitation team is aware of reports of intimidation

Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is also secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, warned this week of a potential "bloodbath" if elections are held this year, urging the international community to put measures in place to prevent this.

Biti told Agence France Presse in Johannesburg on Wednesday at a global poverty forum that indications of potential violence are already visible. "The tell-tale signs are already there that you could have another bloodbath...What is required is pro-activeness to prevent quite clearly a foreseeable sitution," Biti told the French wire service.

Sources say President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has deployed soldiers, youth militia, war veterans and security agents to provinces such as Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Masvingo and Midlands ahead of the widely expected vote.

Biti criticised the international community for reacting late to crises in Africa.

But Lindiwe Zulu, an advisor to South African President Jacob Zuma, who is mediating in Harare on behalf of Southern African Development Community leaders, said her facilitation team is aware of reports of intimidation at this stage.

"One of the issues we have to deal with in relation to the (elections) road map is to deal with the fear that people have for an election so that we do not have a repetition of what happened in the previous election," Zulu said.

Mr. Zuma is working with the three parties currently sharing power in Zimbabwe to craft an elections road map to ensure necessary reforms precede any election.

President Mugabe's formed a government of national unity with Mr. Tsangirai's MDC and a smaller MDC formation after the disputed 2008 presidential run-off election.

Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, ZANU-PF secretary for youth, dismissed Biti's concerns as politically inspired. Kasukuwere said the Movement for Democratic Change is a "party that is way past its shelf life" and has lost relevance.

But Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa responded that ZANU-PF is preparing a violent election. He described ZANU-PF as a "sunset party" which is clinging to power through coercion of the people of Zimbabwe.

Elsewhere, correspondent Irwin Chifera reported that more than a quarter of the voters listed on the voters roll that served as the basis the 2008 polls are deceased, according to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which urged an overhaul of the list.

The Southern African Development Community came under fire this week from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights which issued a report on Thursday that criticized the regional organization saying it has failed to effectively oversee implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing, of which it is a guarantor.

The Zimbabwean elections road map has become the focus of political discussion - but not many details have emerged as to what that road map should look like.

As in the Mideast conflict, politicians and diplomats draft road maps hoping to give shape to a process that might otherwise run off course and fail. But as in the standoff between the Israelis and the Palestinians, having a road map doesn’t always ensure success.

For perspective on what an elections road map might look like, reporter Tatenda Gumbo reached out to political analysts Effie Dlela Ncube and Charles Mangongera.

Mangongera said a paramount consideration for such a road map must be following the gudelines of the Southern African Development Community on democratic elections.

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