This week I was surprised to hear the chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, tell the world that the situation in Zimbabwe is good enough to hold free and fair elections. I should point out at the beginning that I do not agree with Ms Zuma’s view.
Of course, given the recent scathing attacks on Lindiwe Zulu by President Mugabe, it was expected that Ms Dlamini-Zuma would tread carefully. However I did not expect her to ignore the concerns raised by the opposition. As a senior diplomat Ms Zulu should have tried to be as objective as possible.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was not happy with Ms Dlamini-Zuma’s conduct, and, in my opinion, rightly so. Whilst some have said the PM’s attack on Ms Dlamini-Zuma was unwarranted, I believe that the Prime Minister was right to let the world know that he had conveyed his grievances to Ms Zuma. It is proper that we know, else we would blame the Prime Minister himself for being silent.
Ms Zuma only had to switch on the TV in her hotel room and watch ZBC for a few minutes. It would not take her much time to see that the programs being broadcast on national television are unfair to other political parties.
The chaos of the special votes should have alerted Ms Zuma to the realities on the ground. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), is not prepared to hold free and fair elections. Now we hear that some marked ballot papers have been found in a city bin.
As for violence, there are reports of political violence and widespread intimidation. I have not witnessed any violence but I’ve seen people intimidated, I’ve heard village heads and chiefs threatening people who are thought to be MDC supporters.
The voters roll has not been given to political parties as required by law. This should be done in reasonable time for parties to scrutinise the voters roll and also for them to plan their campaigns according to the demographics of each region. There are rumours that the procedure for counting votes has been changed. We hear that ballots will now be transported to and counted at the ward centres. Normally votes should be counted at each and every polling station and the results displayed there.
Ms Zuma also urged Zimbabweans to seek help from the courts, not the streets, if the polls are disputed for any reason – as they’re likely to be. Perhaps she is not aware of the fact that the 2002 presidential election results were challenged in court and up to now that has not been resolved.
Ms Dlamini-Zuma’s statements show that she would rather have Zimbabwe hold a flawed election than risk offending ZANU Pf. She chose to take sides and to be dishonest when she said all the parties were satisfied with the electoral processes.
The ‘process’ is not ‘fine’, contrary to what Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would have us believe. There is nothing fine about this election. We are not fine at all.