Zim election not looking good: Zuma envoy
Pretoria – A top South African diplomat said on Thursday that preparations
for an election in Zimbabwe at the end of the month were “not looking good”,
unusually strong criticism of President Robert Mugabe from his powerful
Lindiwe Zulu, President Jacob Zuma’s special adviser on Zimbabwe, said Zuma
had called Mugabe to tell him he was not pleased with the run-up to the poll
on 31 July, a date fixed by Mugabe after a Constitutional Court ruling.
It had been criticised by Mugabe’s opponents and South Africa’s government
as too soon.
“We are concerned because things on the ground are not looking good,” said
The election is supposed to end five years of fractious unity government
under a deal brokered by South Africa following violent and disputed polls
in 2008. With the credibility of the poll already called into question,
those hopes are now waning.
South Africa wants to avoid a repeat of the 2008 violence, which brought a
flood of refugees into the country and added a further burden on stretched
Zulu’s comments are likely to infuriate the 89-year-old Mugabe, who labelled
Zulu “stupid and idiotic” at a campaign rally this month after she repeated
South Africa’s call to delay the polling date by a few weeks to ensure the
process runs as smoothly as possible.
Two days of advance voting for 70 000 police officers and soldiers on Sunday
and Monday suggested the fears of a chaotic election will be borne out,
raising the prospect of a disputed result and civil unrest in a country with
a history of election violence.
In the special voting, long lines formed at polling stations and some people
were unable to vote because ballot papers did not turn up at all – one of
several logistical challenges acknowledged by the Election Commission.
In addition to smooth logistics, South Africa wants cast-iron guarantees
that the army and police will end their open support of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF
The South African government’s verdict as to the quality of the vote has
added significance because election observers from the European Union and
United States are barred from entering Zimbabwe.
There have been no formal opinion polls but most analysts see ZANU-PF as the
favourite given its monopoly of state media and the problems with voter
registration encountered by many young, urban Zimbabweans – the support base
of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s main challenger.
The United States said on Tuesday it was deeply concerned by a lack of
transparency in the run-up to the vote, suggesting Washington was in no mood
to ease sanctions against a victorious Mugabe and his inner circle even if
he wins without violence.