HARARE – Once again the election season is upon us and we are encouraged by statements from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that he will only participate in elections that are observed by African Union, Sadc and United Nations.
Election observers from Sadc, the AU and UN are critical for the next general election as their presence would avoid another sham election characterised by voter intimidation and violence.
It is however, the timing of the deployment of observers that is important in a volatile country like Zimbabwe where elections have always been marred by violence and allegations of massive rigging.
Political parties are already in an election mode with signs of violence already on the horizon.
Against this background, we call upon the UN, AU and Sadc observers to come into the country six months before the elections so as to monitor what promises to be another brutal fight between contesting political parties, especially MDC and Zanu PF.
In Africa, it is not a secret that rigging elections is an elaborate process that includes the deployment of soldiers to scare villagers.
A controversial election will trigger political violence across the country which will bring suffering and economic destruction to Zimbabwe.
We can no longer watch as our nationals are displaced and flood neighbouring states where they become refugees.
It is therefore in the interests of the regional and international bodies to be pro-active as Zimbabwe march towards a watershed election that will either throw the country into turmoil or usher in a new government that respects its citizens.
We have observed with interest the signing into law of the Electoral Amendment Act and hope a new constitution that is on the cards will be a step towards free and fair elections.
The AU, Sadc and UN should encourage Zimbabwe through financial support towards important programmes such as the referendum.
Sadc, who are the guarantors of the unity government should ensure that there is a deterrent for non-compliance with the Sadc Electoral Protocol to which Zimbabwe is signatory.
All political parties should demonstrate a will towards the holding of a free and fair election and the Electoral Commission the body charged with conducting polls should also be resourced to ensure that it carries out its duties without constraints. – Staff Writer