HARARE – Current bickering over poll dates seems to present partners in the shaky coalition government with difficult choices that have the potential to deepen strained relations further.
The uncertainty surrounding the issue has the potential to fuel speculation and deflate the electorate’s enthusiasm as well as erode confidence among them, with the risk that it might provoke voter apathy during the forthcoming watershed polls.
Voters took it as given that harmonised elections would follow as a natural consequence of the recently-held referendum in which they participated with enthusiasm and never anticipated an unhealthy rift developing between major political players over poll dates.
The public now feels let down by these destructive fights because it expected more consensus among political leaders as witnessed during the campaign for the Yes vote.
They had hailed it as a step in the right direction and hoped that spirit would be maintained.
Although pundits are having a hectic time seeking to provide legal explanation why the elections should be held in June they conveniently forget that the whole constitutional process over the past four years thrived on compromise.
Election dates can be negotiated to suit prevailing conditions unlike the American presidential elections dates which are rigidly enforced and cast in stone and have been so for centuries.
The public still awaits Parliament to go through the legal processes of adopting the accepted draft so that it comes into full force and do away with draconian measures still impinging on certain basic freedoms before parties can campaign freely.
And judging by the lackadaisical political activities on the ground, both major contestants have not done the groundwork necessary to go full-throttle into an election. One begins to wonder why parties should hurtle to hold elections under this state of unpreparedness. Parties are mindful of their lack of preparedness to mount serious political campaigns, giving the commonplace impression that all this unnecessary wrangling about elections in less than 88 days is mere showboating.
Zanu PF and both formations of the MDC are obviously battling to put their houses in order; both have yet to start holding primary elections at grassroots level to determine their candidates for the June 29 date.
Apparently each of the major contestants seeks to flex their muscle with little regard for the electorate that had waited patiently through almost a withering five years of bickering and horse trading.
The onus is now on the leadership to put their heads together and seek consensus in this impasse. – Staff Writer