Tsvangirai says he and Mugabe will set date for elections


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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said he and President Robert Mugabe will set the date for the next elections when conditions are right because only a legitimately elected government, and not a coalition, can develop and implement a common vision and programmes that will deal with the massive unemployment and poverty that Zimbabwe is currently facing. Addressing the World Justice Forum in Barcelona, Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe should work on an election roadmap that makes sure that those who are defeated in elections are not smuggled into government through power-sharing arrangements.

“We must avoid the circus that began in Kenya, was perfected in Zimbabwe and backfired in the Ivory Coast,” he said in a speech released by the party. “It is indeed a disturbing trend which must be discouraged where incumbents who lose an election are smuggled back through dubious power-sharing arrangements.”

He said Zimbabwe should come up with an election roadmap characterised by security sector realignment, a credible and neutral secretariat of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a biometric voters’ roll, extensive reforms and a new Constitution coupled with foolproof mechanisms to ensure security of the person and security of the vote.

“So the date for our next election is going to be defined by a process. Only after this process has been concluded to our satisfaction will the President and I agree on the date for the next polls. Only a legitimately elected government, and not a coalition, can develop and implement a common vision and programmes that will deal with the massive unemployment and poverty that we currently face,” the Prime Minister said.

He said he was glad that the Southern African Development Community appointed mediator, South African President Jacob Zuma and the SADC itself, had put their feet down to ensure Zimbabwe does not have a repeat of 2008 and will instead have free, fair and credible elections.

Tsvangirai said 500 people lost their lives in the run-up to the 2008 Presidential elections run-off but the perpetrators of the violence had not been brought to book because both the police chief and the attorney-general were not taking action because of their partisan attitude.

Previously the number of people that were reported to have died during the pre-election violence was put at just over 200.

President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front has been pushing for elections this year but it seems to now have relented and says they can be held early next year.

SADC says they must be held when all the terms of the Global Political Agreement have been implemented and a new constitution has been drafted and agreed to by the people.

The Constitution Select Committee had said it would come up with a draft constitution by September but it continues to be bogged down by squabbles and a shortage of cash.

Below is Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s address:

 

Keynote Address by the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Right Hon Morgan Tsvangirai at the occasion of the World Justice Forum, Barcelona, Spain
Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel greatly honored to be part of this great gathering of colleagues committed to the rule of law as a key ingredient to entrenching a democratic culture in our societies. Today, we live in a world plagued by disease, crime, terrorism and hunger. We live in a world full of conflict, hate and war. A world plagued by oppression and violence. But from the depth of these vices must rise brave men and women; brave global citizens committed to bringing back justice and the rule of law to a vile world.

From the debris of crime and violence must rise the specter of justice so that innocent citizens in our communities can live in peace. From the slums of human fallibility must rise the rule of law to bring back order and accountability to a world full of confusion, petty crime and political violence.

I have been asked to speak to the topic: The Rule of Law and Credible Elections: The Case of Zimbabwe.

Elections in the absence of the rule of law.
Although elections are sometimes marred by fraud and do sometimes result in violence, no other means have brought about non-violent transitions with the same consistency as elections. According to a 2005 Afro-barometer survey, 60 percent of Africans believe democracy is preferable to all other forms of government. Even in the countries that have suffered most from failed or flawed elections or even from the failure to hold elections entirely the people have responded not by abandoning democracy but by increasing their demands for accountability and reform.

While it is true that genuine democracy goes beyond simply holding elections, a credible election is an important primary factor in building and entrenching a democratic ethos in any society. A conducive environment for elections includes the rule of law, judicial independence and enforcement; a transparent, accountable, and open government; a raft of media and political reforms and a determined fight against graft and corruption.

While these conditions are nominally independent of elections, a free and credible election is not possible without them. But democracy goes beyond a free and fair electoral contest. It is about building institutions that protect the people so that they can live in peace and harmony. There can be no credible elections in an environment of fear and intimidation.The people cannot freely express themselves in conditions of anarchy and violence, where perpetrators of crime go scot-free while the victims are persecuted and tormented.

Zimbabwe is under a coalition government of three parties following the inconclusive election of 2008. The party that I lead, the MDC, won the Presidential, Parliamentary and local government elections and I pulled out of the re-run following massive violence against the people. I refused to sacrifice the people and to subject them to further violence even though I had won the first round. State-sponsored violence was therefore at the epicentre of the disputed election of 2008 in Zimbabwe which led to the formation of the inclusive government.

Known perpetrators of violence who murdered over 500 people in that run-up to that election are still to be prosecuted as it appears the police and the Attorney-General have conspired to subvert justice and the rule of law.Thousands remain homeless; some were maimed and raped while others are still missing from the violence arising out of that disputed election.

Even though the perpetrators are still walking in the streets and in the villages, our law enforcement agents and the prosecuting authority have pretended nothing ever happened.
This is a sad testament of the tragedy that befalls innocent citizens when key institutions charged with enforcing the rule of law become politically compromised.

When the Police Commissioner-General and the Attorney-General state publicly that they support a particular political party in an inclusive government, as in our case, the rule of law becomes perverted and people lose confidence in the institutions they lead. It is an affront to the rights and freedoms of citizens when the rule of law is sacrificed on the altar of political expediency and when key institutions fail in their national duty of serving and protecting the people.

The challenge in Zimbabwe is that even after forming the inclusive government, some state organs and state institutions have failed to respect the new dispensation.A small clique of top officials in the police, the army and the intelligence services have vowed that they support President Mugabe and Zanu PF and will not allow anyone else to govern the country, even if that person wins an election.

They have overtly become partisan and are seeking to undermine the civilian authority. Every day, they are dabbling in politics, even seeking to influence the date of the election and the conditions under which that election will be held.

While the necessary conditions for free and fair elections have yet to be put in place, our colleagues in the coalition government who still wield power over the top echelons of the security sector have deployed the army in the countryside to intimidate villagers in order to predetermine the outcome of the next election.

In our case, the problem has never been the ordinary soldier nor the ordinary police office It has always been a small, parasitic clique at the helm of these institutions that is at the forefront of systemic violation of the people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.

They have created a war psychosis in the country; which by its very nature subverts the Constitutional order and undermines the legitimate civilian authority in the country.As we trudge from the disputed poll of 2008 towards yet another election, the onus falls on SADC, Africa and the broader international community to stand by the people of Zimbabwe to ensure that their security, their freedoms and their vote is protected.

I am glad that SADC and the facilitator, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, have exerted their energies to ensuring that the parties in Zimbabwe come up with a roadmap to a free and fair election. In the modern world of regional groupings and interconnected economies, it is necessary for peace to prevail even in the homes of our neighbours. That is why we are heartened by the unstinting effort of our colleagues in SADC in helping us craft a roadmap that  will ensure a credible election, an undisputed result and a legitimate government.

A roadmap, with time-bound-bound milestones to ensure the people of Zimbabwe cast their votes in peace, with neither fear nor coercion. A roadmap that will ensure that the outcome of that election is respected and that the people’s will is protected.

I urge you all to be global citizens; to be responsible citizens of the world who will fight injustice and violence anywhere in the world, including Zimbabwe.

I call upon you to support the people of Zimbabwe as they navigate through this delicate transition into a new country, with new values and a new ethos.

I may be standing before you as leader of Zimbabwe’s biggest political party.  But the struggle facing the country goes beyond the person of Morgan Tsvangirai or the party I lead.
It has always been an ordinary people’s struggle; a collective struggle of a determined people from across the political divide fighting for a new Zimbabwe and a new beginning. A struggle by ordinary people in the villages, in the urban townships, in the mines and in the diaspora to bring back their dignity and to be allowed to express themselves in a free and fair election.

In 2008, the people spoke in an election that they wanted a new culture and a new beginning. But their vote did not count. Those who lost the election were smuggled into an inclusive government that is now dysfunctional due to competing interests and lack of a common vision.

The challenge before us is to make sure that this does not happen again. We must avoid the circus that began in Kenya, was perfected in Zimbabwe and backfired in the Ivory Coast.It is indeed a disturbing trend which must be discouraged where incumbents who lose an election are smuggled back through dubious power-sharing arrangements.

The challenge for us and the rest of the world is to vaccinate against yet another stolen election in Zimbabwe and to ensure the implementation of a roadmap to a free and fair election. A roadmap characterized by security sector realignment, a credible and neutral secretariat of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a biometric voters’ roll, extensive  reforms and a new Constitution coupled with foolproof mechanisms to ensure security of the person and security of the vote.

So the date for our next election is going to be defined by a process. Only after this process has been concluded to our satisfaction will the President and I agree on the date for the next polls. Only a legitimately elected government, and not a coalition, can develop and implement a common vision and programmes that will deal with the massive unemployment and poverty that we currently face.

The world must stand by us as we try to agree and implement a roadmap to a free and fair poll. You must all stand by us as we embark on this political programme underpinned by political reforms, a commitment to the rule of law, defense of property rights and reward of individual effort. The major lesson from the struggle against apartheid in South Africa is that the world should not be a by-stander against repression.

So I call for global support to the people of Zimbabwe as we walk through this difficult transition; as we wage this protracted struggle to bring back our dignity and to become part of the global family of nations once again.

Yes, support the people of Zimbabwe as they struggle for a credible election and the rule of law underpinned by the basic freedoms of assembly, speech, movement and association. I am certain that we will succeed in our struggle for a new Zimbabwe and a new beginning. A new Zimbabwe where political differences are not an excuse for violence and unnecessary conflict; where state institutions promote peace and unity – not war and violence against defenseless people.

The challenge of the new crop of Africa leaders is to kill the culture of violence against defenceless citizens so that governments concentrate on pressing national issues such as eradicating poverty, creating jobs, growing the economy and delivering quality and affordable service to the people, especially health and education.

We will succeed in rebuilding our country in an environment of peace and security where every Zimbabwean will be free to pursue and live their dreams. Yes, join us in a global campaign for a peaceful election in our country because true democracy is possible in Zimbabwe.

(6 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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