December 30, 2010

Zuma drafting poll roadmap

South African President Jacob Zuma is drafting a roadmap to Zimbabwe's elections to be presented at an extraordinary meeting of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in January 2011. The roadmap, according to diplomatic sources, would be modelled along the lines of the regional bloc's Mauritius principles and guidelines governing democratic elections to ensure free and fair polls as and when they are held and will be the trajectory to end the marriage of convenience between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's inclusive government.

The diplomats said the roadmap would also contain mechanisms for the transfer of power.
Mugabe is pushing for elections mid-next year. Tsvangirai also wants elections, but insists on democratic reforms before they are held.

International Affairs advisor to Zuma, Lindiwe Zulu, confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that the Sadc-appointed facilitator to the Zimbabwe political crisis was now spearheading the process of drafting the roadmap. Initially Zuma had tasked the six inter-party negotiators to draft the roadmap, but because of escalating political bickering among the three parties in the inclusive government he has taken over the process. “There are certain principles that Sadc would expect for any country to go into an election and these are basics of holding elections that create a conducive environment for people to vote freely and fairly without any fear," Zulu added.

According to the 2004 Grand Baie guidelines, there has to be full participation of citizens in the political process, freedom of association, political tolerance and equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media. There should also be equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for, independence of the judiciary, and impartiality of the electoral institutions and acceptance and respect of the election results by political parties proclaimed to have been free and fair by the competent national electoral authorities.

Last month Zuma said he would not support an election in Zimbabwe that is flawed with violence, intimidation and a suppressed media environment. He wanted to see a favourable environment for free and fair elections before the polls are held.

Zulu also added that Zuma was not bothered by US State Department cables leaked by WikiLeaks in which Mugabe allegedly described him as a populist in a meeting with former United States ambassador James McGee and US Democratic Congressman Donald Payne at State House on May 30 2009. The whistleblower website said Mugabe regarded Zuma as a "man of the people who likes to make promises without necessarily knowing how to fulfill them". Zulu said: "The relationship between the principals and President Zuma has been good and in their discussions the principals have been very frank. We don't want to be engaging ourselves with the WikiLeaks because we have our own foreign policy and agenda as South Africa. "President Zuma is not bothered by the WikiLeaks because at the end of the day he is in a good relationship with President Mugabe. WikiLeaks are not our issue. We don't want to be diverted by WikiLeaks as we have serious issues on the table." (Zimbabwe Independent)


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