South Africa’s international relations deputy minister Ebrahim Ebrahim told reporters yesterday it was also the responsibility of the Southern African Development Community, which brokered Zimbabwe’s current powersharing arrangement, to ensure free and fair elections take place.
‘Free and fair’
“There is the question of Zimbabwe having enough funding to hold a successful election. If South Africa is requested to assist in any way, we will definitely assist. We will assist either through funding part of the election or through some logistical assistance. It is in our interest and that of the region to see a free and fair election taking place,” Mr Ebrahim said
In April the cash-strapped Zimbabwean government refused assistance from the United Nations to fund the poll because the international body wanted to talk to local civil society groups about conditions on the ground prior to any agreement to provide money.
President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party was the driving force behind that decision, saying it did not want western interference in the country’s internal processes.
Although the former liberation movement is desperate to have the poll this year due to its leader’s advanced age – Mr Mugabe is 89 years old – the party is also keen to ensure there is little outside influence over the process. There are indications on the ground that Zanu-PF is gearing up to use the same violence, intimidation and underhanded electioneering tactics it has used to stay in power since 1980.
So the public confirmation that South Africa would like to see more reforms introduced if it is to partially fund the estimated $130 million needed was good news for Mr Mugabe’s political nemesis, Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Under the terms of the powersharing deal his party signed up to in 2009 with Zanu-PF, after disputed elections the year before, media, human rights, electoral and security reforms were to be introduced before any new poll could take place.
Mr Mugabe is expected to rubber-stamp the adoption of the new constitution this week, and shortly after that he wants to set an election date in June or July.
The new constitution, which was voted in by the electorate in March, goes some way to levelling the political playing field as it waters down the president’s powers.
Source: The Irish Times