Dark cloud over Zimbabwe polls
THE PORTENTS for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe at the end of this month do not look very good. A “dry run” of special early voting for personnel such as securi- ty forces who will be on duty on election day on July 31 was by most accounts shambolic, with thousands reportedly not able to make their mark this past week as polling stations opened late and many lacked the basic necessities such as voters’ rolls and ballot papers.
South Africa’s chief envoy on the Zimbabwe me- diation process Lindiwe Zulu said: “The process has got challenges, we can’t deny that because we’ve seen what info has been coming out during the spe- cial vote.”
Problems are mounting at an alarming rate. With the vote due in less than two weeks, the country is still trying to raise the $132 million budget re- quired to fund it.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure that we have sufficient resources to fund the elec- tions,” Finance Minister Tendai Biti admitted.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC), which will play a key observer role during the elections, is set to hold an extraordinary sum- mit in Pretoria today to discuss Zimbabwe’s readiness for the presidential and legislative elections.
But with President Robert Mugabe set to bull- doze ahead with the elections, questions need to be asked about how credible the polls are likely to be.
The African Union, after its Peace and Security Council meeting yesterday, said that it was possible to have free and fair elections in Zimbabwe in two weeks’ time. “But we cannot guarantee that it will be the most perfect or optimum of situations,” AU commissioner for political affairs on Zimbabwe Aisha Abdullahi said rather limply.
The SADC must play hardball today to ensure everything is done to ensure a semblance of nor-
mality when Zimbabweans cast their vote.