Credible election impossible
By Thelma Chikwanha
HARARE – The rule of law remains precarious in Zimbabwe, with a partisan Attorney-General and police commissioner being some of the biggest threats to a free election in Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has told an international audience.
Speaking in Spain where he is attending a World Justice Forum, Tsvangirai said credible elections were impossible in Zimbabwe at the moment because fear, intimidation of innocent citizens and selective application of the law were still prevalent.
He said police boss Augustine Chihuri and AG Johannes Tomana, both confessed Zanu PF supporters, were conspiring to subvert justice and the rule of law.
“When the police commissioner-general and the attorney-general state publicly that they support a particular political party in an inclusive government, as in our case, the rule of law becomes perverted and people lose confidence in the institutions they lead,” said Tsvangirai.
“It is an affront to the rights and freedoms of citizens when the rule of law is sacrificed on the altar of political expediency and when key institutions fail in their national duty of serving and protecting the people,” he said.
The MDC leader was speaking on the rule of law and credible elections. He cited the case of Zimbabwe where he said more than 500 perpetrators of political violence were still to be prosecuted for crimes committed during the 2008 elections as an example of an uneven electoral environment.
“While it is true that genuine democracy goes beyond simply holding elections, a credible election is an important primary factor in building and entrenching democratic ethos in any society.
“A conducive environment for elections includes the rule of law, judicial independence and enforcement; a transparent, accountable, and open government; a raft of media and political reforms and a determined fight against graft and corruption,” Tsvangirai said.
Thousands of people lost their homes, women were raped while others lost their limbs during the run up to the violent June 2008 presidential election runoff, which Tsvangirai boycotted. The international community, including the African Union, later rejected the run-off poll as a non-event, forcing the formation of a coalition government.
“This is a sad testament of the tragedy that befalls innocent citizens when key institutions charged with enforcing the rule of law become politically compromised,” Tsvangirai said.
Some of the victims of politically motivated rape like Mary Pamire who says she was gang-raped by 10 soldiers in Chitungwiza and infected with HIV, still bear the physical and emotional scars of the crime while her assailants roam around the streets as free men. Tsvangirai repeated his attack on security chiefs, whom he said were failing to respect the new dispensation and undermining civilian authority.
Last week, the former trade unionist challenged the securocrats to leave the military if they wanted to pursue political careers.
“Every day, they are dabbling in politics, even seeking to influence the date of the election and the conditions under which that election will be held,” he said.
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