Free elections possible: Australian ambassador


HARARE – Australia says free and fair elections in Zimbabwe can only be held when a new constitution that properly balances power between the Executive and Parliament is in place.

Zimbabwe is set to hold a watershed election next year, but experts have warned a rushed poll could result in increased violence and economic meltdown.

Australian ambassador to Zimbabwe Matthew Neuhaus said despite economic gains and political stability brought about by the formation of the coalition government, more reforms were necessary before an election could be held.

“Technically, there is no doubt Zimbabwe has the capacity to hold elections but there are milestones that have to be met,” he said.

Ambassador Neuhaus said voter education, delimitation of constituencies and actual voting should all be transparent.

“For elections to be free and fair in Zimbabwe there has to be a new and clean voter register where dead people are removed and new, younger people are incorporated. The register must be fully transparent with observers being allowed to view it,” he said.

“Voters must be able to participate in a free environment with no evidence of violence and intimidation,” said Neuhaus.

Neuhaus, who has spent the better part of his life in Africa, described President Robert Mugabe as a significant figure who deserved recognition in Africa for his role in securing Zimbabwe’s independence.

“He is a historic figure because he has been around for a long time and that he has played a key role in the independence of Zimbabwe. President Mugabe has a wide breadth of knowledge and we are looking to him to create an environment that is conducive for free and fair elections,” he said. – John Kachembere

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