Friday, March 9, 2012

Zimbabwe: Elections in line with the Global Political Agreement?

South Africa's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, recently said that elections can only be held in Zimbabwe after the adoption of a new democratic constitution. This statement is in line with the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which is a power-sharing agreement adopted after the 2008 election crisis in Zimbabwe.  According to the GPA, Zimbabwe must finish drafting its constitution and hold a referendum before any new elections. The GPA also requires Zimbabwe to adopt a clear roadmap to free, fair and transparent elections. 

ZANU-PF members have reacted to Nkoana-Mashabane's statement with hostility. Jonathan Moyo, who is a member of the party's Politburo, told Nkoana-Mashabane to 'shut up'. According to Moyo, Nkoana-Mashabane has no business commenting on the internal affairs of Zimbabwe as the country has neither even been a province of South Africa nor will it ever be. 

Didymus Mutasa, who is the ZANU-PF secretary of administration, has revealed that President Robert Mugabe is set to announce an election date with or without the completion of the new constitution. However, this raises questions as to the viability of elections considering the fact that the new constitution is not yet completed. Even if the constitution drafting were to be completed by the 15 March deadline, the Parliamentary Select Committee in charge of the constitutional reform process insists a referendum will only be possible after August 2012. Moreover, there are other democratic reforms that need to be implemented by the parties to the GPA, including electoral and media, which are not easily achieved. It will also not be easy to transform the current political landscape into one in which political parties campaign freely. Meanwhile, ZANU-PF hardliners remain adamant to security sector reforms.

Recently, South African President Jacob Zuma who has been in charge of facilitating the implementation of the GPA, travelled to a number of countries including Botswana, Namibia and Angola as part of an effort to secure a regional consensus for elections to be held in Zimbabwe in line with the GPA. President Zuma is expected to travel to Harare soon to discuss an election roadmap and other GPA matters with the parties in Zimbabwe. At this stage, the implementation of the GPA would probably benefit from more resolute intervention and the support of President Zuma.

Zimbabwe will probably not see the type of popular uprising that was witnessed in North Africa last year. With the violence of the 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2008 elections still lingering in the minds of many Zimbabweans, majority simply prefer to leave the country instead of confronting tough domestic political situations. Moreover, the service chiefs in Zimbabwe remain loyal to ZANU-PF and it is unlikely that the military will intervene, in anyway, to protect protestors as was the case in Egypt. However, if elections take place without the provisions of the GPA being met, Zimbabwe is most likely going to find itself in the same situation it was before the disputed 2008 elections, which necessitated the SADC-brokered GPA.