Thursday, 25 April 2013

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai’s statement on free and fair elections

Harvest House, Harare, 25 April 2013
No elections without reforms

Good afternoon members of the press corps and fellow citizens.

Following the successful Yes vote for a new Constitution and subsequent processes to be undertaken for the adoption of the new charter, there has been debate on the context, substance and character of the next election and when it will be held.
At Principals’ level, we have since tasked the minister of Justice and the Minister of Constitutional Affairs with consulting all the relevant political parties as they draft the legal and the political roadmap before submitting it to us as principals for the determination of the election date.

We are also alive to the fact that SADC and the AU, as guarantors of the GPA, are major stakeholders in determining the conditions and framework of a free and fair election and they will definitely be continuously consulted.

But for us in the party of excellence, the people’s party, the MDC, it is clear that there are many issues that need to be addressed if we are to have a plebiscite that is free, fair and credible as envisaged under the GPA and expected by the people of Zimbabwe, our brothers and sisters in SADC and the AU.

While the process of the roadmap is being dealt with, there are many software and hardware issues we have to address if we are to hold a credible election, key among them the many reforms that we have agreed on as political parties and as Principals but remain unimplemented.

As a party of excellence, we have outlined and stated the key minimum conditions for the holding of a credible, free and fair election, namely:

· Guaranteeing the security of the vote, the security of the voter and the security of the outcome of the vote

-All Zimbabweans must vote in peace without intimidation, victimization, violence or being forced to attend a political meeting of this or that party. No “bases” and vigilante groups in our villages, suburbs or communities. The people’s will must be respected and guaranteed.

· Undertaking of a ward-based nationwide voter education, registration and inspection by ZEC for a minimum of two months.

-All Zimbabweans including the so-called aliens must be able to register and inspect the voters roll to ensure their names are on the roll.

All political players and citizens must have access to the voters roll in searchable and auditable form.

The residence qualification must not be limited but include a personal affidavit validating a place of residence. Zimbabweans must know the importance of voting for a party of their choice.

· Addressing issue of the ZEC secretariat to ensure impartiality, credibility and legitimacy in light of the 2008 electoral experience

-The ZEC secretariat must not include partisan elements and individuals who have displayed overt partisan bias and inclinations. The secretariat must be apolitical, professional and above all inspire confidence in the voting public.

· Media Reforms

The ZBC and all publicly funded media must be impartial and objective in covering all political players and the public. There must be no hate speech, no hate language and no malicious and partisan reporting. There must be fair and objective coverage for all who wish to be covered.
There must be registration of truly independent and private radio and television broadcasters before elections to provide Zimbabweans with truly alternative platforms of communication.

· Inclusive invitation and accreditation of election observers six months before and after the election

-The composition, structure and operations of the accreditation committee should reflect inclusivity and the true spirit of an independent ZEC.
Accreditation must be decentralized.
Accreditation must be done in terms of the SADC guidelines on elections whose purpose is to ensure total transparency of the electoral process as opposed to other parochial and partisan considerations which do not serve that purpose.
The observers must be invited without bias or partisan considerations.

· The logistics of the election, the selection and deployment of polling officers and stations must be inclusive under the control of ZEC

-ZEC must follow international best practice where the civil service staff and ZEC staff undertake a transparent hiring process. Political parties need to be involved in ballot paper design and auditing, production process and distribution of ballots as was successfully done in Zambia and Kenya.

 Electoral law amendments and reforms

We must ensure that the laws governing elections are in line with the Constitution and the expectations of the people. Repressive laws such as POSA and AIPPA have no role to play in a free and fair election as envisaged by SADC guidelines on that subject.

· The code of conduct for our security forces during elections

-The role of the security sector in this election must be clearly defined in line with international best practice. The security sector must be professional, impartial, and non-partisan and desist from overtly making partisan political statements and abusing State resources to further the narrow partisan interests. Security forces are a national asset belonging to the people of Zimbabwe for peace and tranquility and not the opposite.

The major stumbling block to the implementation to the above already agreed reforms remains a palpable deficit of political will to implement agreed issues, without which we are likely to reproduce electoral contestations and a disputed outcome.  
While the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must be responsible for everything to do with elections, there are disturbing reports of the involvement of spooky and shadowy elements in civilian issues of the voters’ roll and registration, with the Registrar-General being the civilian face AND FORCE of this murky system.
As the MDC, the people’s party of excellence, we want to state and restate that there shall be no credible election without the implementation of the aforementioned minimum reforms.
In a short while, I will be visiting players within SADC and the AU to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe are guaranteed of a free and fair election that will usher in a new dispensation.

It is my fervent prayer that peace prevails in our beloved and beautiful country. Peace in the home, peace in the community, peace in all the dour corners of our country.
Yes, peace in parties and peace in all political processes including our national elections.

God bless you.

Together to end,building a youth with a difference.

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