May 5, 2011

Peace talks resume/ Elections in 12 months, says Tsvangirai

Talks to resolve Zimbabwe’s long running crisis have resumed in Cape Town, South Africa amid reports of resurgent political violence across the country. South African President Jacob Zuma has been facilitating the talks between Zimbabwe’s three governing parties since he was appointed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to rescue the power sharing the faltering deal in 2009.

The Cape Town meeting also comes a few weeks after President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry minister Professor Welshman Ncube respectively agreed on a roadmap to fresh elections. The roadmap effectively rules out elections this year as it calls for the completion of the new constitution making process and the crafting of new electoral laws. Although one of the Zanu PF negotiators Mr Patrick Chinamasa said the agenda would be set at the first meeting, there are still a number of issues to do with elections that remain unresolved.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said that elections in Zimbabwe would probably be held in the next 12 months, but they were unlikely to take place this year. This was subject to the "fulfilment of certain benchmarks" including the finalisation of a new constitution, a referendum and then an agreed date for election, he said. It was of critical importance to ensure that the right conditions existed so that when the elections were held, the results would be "no longer contestable", said Tsvangirai, whose Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) shares Zimbabwe's government of national unity with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF. "Having gone through the experience of violence," Tsvangirai said, "the next election must produce a legitimate government so that we don't have the losers trying to negotiate their way back into power through some form of a coalition like a government of national unity." The outcome of the election must be legitimate, credible and must be conducted to the satisfaction of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union and the international community, he said.

Mugabe had called for elections this year to end the power-sharing rule formed in 2008, after a disputed presidential vote marred by violence. But he has appeared to back away from his insistence on the polls, after SADC leaders insisted in March that Zimbabwe draft a new constitution before going to elections. On April 27, Tendai Biti, the finance minister from Tsvangirai's party, told local media that the country did not have money to hold the proposed elections in 2011. (Mail&Guardian/Daily Nation)

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