16 July, 2013

Prospects for Zimbabwe Look Bleak

by Hussein Solomon

Later this month – on 31 July – Zimbabweans go to the polls. The electoral date was set by an arrogant Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) despite protests from the political opposition, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the international observers.

The early and unilateral date set by ZANU-PF is particularly problematic given the fact that the conditions to create a level political field under the SADC roadmap have not been met. Consider the following: The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the registrar-general’s office, the military, judiciary and public media are all staffed by ZANU-PF sympathisers. All these institutions will be playing a key role come election day. Consider too that the voter registration process was characterized by anarchy and several questions have been raised about the voter role compiled. Short wonder, then, that the opposition has already been complaining about a rigged ballot come 31 July. It would seem that the choice of the date by ZANU-PF stemmed from two issues. First, the 89 year-old President Robert Mugabe is suffering from various health issues and there are fears that a later poll date might prevent him from electoral campaigning. Second, an early poll date hardly gives the political opposition time to prepare an adequate campaign.

Under these circumstances, small wonder then that South Africa’s Lindiwe Zulu, who is South African President Jacob Zuma’s International Relations Adviser and part of the mediation team has called for the postponement of the snap poll whilst all electoral reforms are enacted to ensure a legitimate poll. ZANU-PF has reacted angrily against her personally; accusing her of “interference”. Meanwhile President Robert Mugabe has lashed out at her as an “ordinary street woman” whilst ZANU-PF’s mouthpiece, The Herald newspaper called on Jacob Zumba to “tether his terrier”. The “terrier”, of course, being Ms. Lindiwe Zulu.
Lindiwe Zulu with President Jacob Zuma (Photo: GovernmentZA)

Whilst the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation undertook to take up these attacks on Ms. Zulu with its Zimbabwean counterpart, the issue has taken on more ominous proportions with the publication in the British Guardian newspaper of a Zimbabwean intelligence plot to assassinate both Ms. Zulu and President Zuma involving six Lebanese nationals. It seems that the alleged plot was the result of a leaked intelligence report.

What is clear is that the upcoming Zimbabwean polls will have not only national implications but regional ones as well.

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