The country’s opposition, led by former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, has stepped up its demand for next year’s elections to be monitored by the United Nations (UN), following the announcement by President Emmerson Mnangagwa during his inauguration speech last Friday that the polls will be going ahead as planned.
Their demands are based on fears that Zanu PF could fiddle with the ballot as what they claimed happened in the 2008 elections which saw the presidential results being withheld for six weeks.
Zanu PF, under the former president Robert Mugabe, made it clear that it would not allow the UN to monitor the elections, among a list of other demands from the opposition that would ensure a free, fair and credible outcome.
“MDC welcomes the announcement that elections will be held as scheduled. But they must be free and fair.
“There must be a clear plan to eradicate violence and intimidation. The military must not be involved and the elections must be UN supervised,” MDC secretary general Douglas Mwonzora said in on micro blogging site, Twitter.
Zanu PF has previously stated that Zimbabwe is a sovereign country that has the capacity to choose countries and institutions it desires to monitor its electoral processes.
Mnangagwa is set to get the endorsement from the party’s Congress next month which will he see him pitted against the opposition in next year’s elections.
The request for a UN-monitored election is one among a host of other demands that the opposition is pushing for ahead of the elections.
At the same time, the MDC — which has formed a coalition with six others opposition political parties to create the MDC Alliance — in a statement through its spokesperson Obert Gutu, said that it expects next year’s elections to be free and fair.
“Electoral reforms that include complete and thorough de-politicisation of traditional leaders, should, thus, be promptly put in place in time for next year’s elections.
“That is the real acid test of the new president’s inauguration speech. Elections in Zimbabwe have been routinely rigged and manipulated in favour of the ruling party. Zanu PF has developed a notorious record of violence, thuggery and intimidation; particularly during electioneering times,” Gutu.
“Opposition political parties have been deliberately denied access to State-controlled print and electronic media and we honestly hope and trust that the Mnangagwa presidency will usher in a more democratic and tolerant trajectory that firmly abides by all the dictates of the supreme law of the land.
“We now look forward to the creation of a policy framework that will, inter alia, create provincial and metropolitan councils, in tandem with the provisions of our national Constitution,” he added.
Several opposition parties have been calling for electoral reforms, accusing the ruling Zanu PF government of using defective mechanisms to its benefit.
Previous elections have been marred with violence and rigging allegations, which the opposition claim can be arrested through the implementation of electoral reforms and supervision by internationally recognised bodies.
As an initiative to push for electoral reforms, last year, the MDC youths held a demonstration which ended in running battles between the law enforcement agents.