The Movement for Democratic Change will only give its blessing to national elections when the country has achieved the necessary conditions for a free, fair, credible and legitimate election, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said last night.
Speaking at a New Zimbabwe Lecture Series forum, Tsvangirai said the timing of the next elections was not dictated by when but under what conditions they will be held. He emphasised that the executive authority in Zimbabwe was shared and the President had no power to announce an election date without consulting the Prime Minister.
“We have to agree on a date, having satisfied ourselves to the existence of electoral conditions that will not produce another contested outcome,” he said. “Only when we have achieved the necessary conditions for a free, fair, credible and legitimate election will the MDC consider giving its blessing and participating in such a poll.
“Key to achieving this is a new, biometric voter’s roll, a stable and secure environment, a credible electoral body with a non-partisan secretariat, a non-partisan public media, security sector reform and a referendum on the new Constitution. We cannot have an election before we achieve these key milestones,” the Prime Minister said.
Tsvangirai said though the inclusive government had been in existence for two years, people should not celebrate its anniversary but merely mark it because the little progress it had made during its initial days had ground to a halt because ZANU-PF was putting the brakes to some of the key reforms.
“For ZANU-PF, politics has no single rule and their game is based on the need to retain power at all costs. The net result is that the noble objectives of the coalition government have been rendered impotent as our colleagues choose to prioritise power retention as their key deliverable. In addition, the continued failure to implement even the most simple of the 24 agreed issues of the Global Political Agreement shows that inherent friction and lack of a shared vision will continue to haunt this inclusive government,” he said.
He said soldiers and armed vigilantes had been deployed in the countryside over the past few months to recreate the terror of June 2008. Senior officials in the police and in the army were speaking against the freedom of every Zimbabwean to elect new leaders of their choice in an atmosphere of peace and security.
“The police, the army and the central intelligence organization are all national security institutions created to protect the people of Zimbabwe and not to harm them. Over the past two years, these institutions have shown no evidence of reforming; they have failed to adjust to the realities of an inclusive society by refusing to let go of their partisan attitude, which has eroded national confidence at a time when the people want assurance of their security well ahead of the next election,” he said.
There was also an increase in hate speech and unbridled propaganda in the public media. ZANU-PF continued abuse of natural resources and national institutions to further party political agendas.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, for too long we have tried to accommodate the arrogant attitude of ZANU-PF within this administration. That is not our job. It is the people who will ultimately judge them for their attitude and actions. In the meantime, as the victors of the 2008 elections, we have a mandate from the people that we are determined to fulfil, either with the assistance of our partners in government or despite their resistance,” Tsvangirai said.
“The major lesson from Tunisia and Egypt is the sanctity and eventual triumph of people power; the lesson that the people’s day will come tomorrow, notwithstanding today’s repression. But unlike those countries, Zimbabwe already has a transitional mechanism through which the people can express their will, through which they can help shape the future they desire.
“This transitional government provides us with the perfect opportunity to set the ground rules for mutual respect and peace among all Zimbabweans, for guaranteeing the people’s basic freedoms to engage in political activity and for far-reaching democratic reforms that will ensure that the people’s will is respected and upheld,” Tsvangirai said.
President Robert Mugabe and his party have been pressing for elections this year, but they are likely to give in as the chief mediator South African President Jacob Zuma says elections can only be held after a national referendum on the new constitution.
The committee working on the constitution said it can only be ready around September or October.