ZIimbabwe: Mounting violence does not speed up deployment of election monitors
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||29 May 2008|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), ZIimbabwe: Mounting violence does not speed up deployment of election monitors, 29 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4843fffc1e.html [accessed 20 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
HARARE, 29 May 2008 (IRIN) - No independent African electoral observers have been invited to monitor Zimbabwe's presidential run-off election on 27 June, and the bodies approved by President Robert Mugabe's government are not yet at full strength, Dieudonne Tshiyoyo, a programme officer at the South Africa-based Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA), told IRIN.
Mugabe, the incumbent and leader of the ZANU-PF party, will compete against Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), amid a wave of post-election violence since the ZANU-PF government lost control of parliament for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980.
There is general agreement that people have been killed since the 29 March poll, but "It is hard to get a very precise picture of the full range of the violence, or the exact number of politically motivated extra-judicial killings," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said on 28 May.
"At one level, there appears to be an increasing pattern of people being targeted for politically motivated assassination; at another, arrests, harassment, intimidation and violence ? directed not just at people with political affiliations, but also at members of civil society ? are continuing on a daily basis."
Simba Makoni, who competed in the first round of the presidential election, has reportedly called for the run-off poll to be abandoned. "The country does not need another election at this time ... Besides, the violence now gripping the country bodes ill for a free and fair election."
The African Union (AU), the Pan African Parliament (PAP) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have all said they would increase the numbers of their observers for the run-off ballot.
Tshiyoyo said the SADC was expected to deploy 200 observers, 80 more than for the 29 March poll; the AU was expected to "beef up" its 30 monitors; PAP was expected to deploy 50 parliamentarians.
Neither the SADC, nor the AU or the PAP could be reached for comment. Tshiyoyo, whose organisation monitored the 29 March poll - although their accreditation was not processed in time - said "it would be ideal to have all observers on the ground right now."
He said the PAP observers were scheduled to be deployed on 4 June, and although a "very small" number of SADC observers had remained in the country, there had been no statements or reports from them, "so it is difficult to establish what they are doing".
"Since the first round of the presidential election ... police have harassed the legitimate, peaceful activities of staff and observers of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a legally established and widely respected citizen rights group that conducted observation in compliance with the country's electoral laws, code of conduct, and international principles for election observation," the organisation said in a statement on 23 May.
"ZESN members have been arbitrarily detained and interrogated by police and their offices have been searched."
Mugabe, 84, has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years. He launched his re-election bid on Africa Day, 25 May, with the theme, "100 Percent Empowerment, Total Independence".
His address, broadcast live on national television and radio, did not propose solutions on how to tackle unemployment, now at more than 80 percent, an inflation rate unofficially estimated at one million percent, or the widespread shortages of food, electricity, fuel and medicines, and a collapsing mining, agriculture and manufacturing sector.
Mugabe singled out US representatives in his speech: "Tall as he is, [US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee] if he continues doing that [documenting the alleged torture of MDC activists] I will kick him out. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more wrong step.
"You saw that little American girl, Jendayi Frazer [US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs] trotting around the globe like a prostitute, declaring that the MDC had won."
Jabulani Sibanda, chairman of the war veterans, who are accused of spearheading the post-election violence, told IRIN that "The [presidential] vote is no longer a secret [ballot]. It is a responsibility that has been thrust into the hands of people to defend the revolution. It is no longer an election about manifestos but about defending Zimbabwe from re-colonisation through the Western-funded MDC."
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa has called for more international election observers from the SADC, the AU and the UN to be deployed well ahead of the election. "Hundreds of MDC members have fled from rural areas after being beaten up or threatened and had their homes and livestock set on fire," he told IRIN.
"Ideally, we would want to have more than 6,000 observers in the rural areas, because our election agents in the countryside in the first round of voting have all fled their homes because of working for the MDC."