BOTSWANA President Ian Khama has expressed reservations over the possibility of peaceful elections in Zimbabwe saying those responsible for the “brutality and intimidation” of 2008 remain in place and ready to act.
Speaking in Gaborone on Wednesday, Khama said he hoped elections which Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai suggested could be held in July would be peaceful and fair.
"All I can say right now is that I hope there will be a credible election … The reason I say ‘hope’ is because all the people who were involved in the brutality and intimidation that took place back then are still there today," he told Business Day.
"I have not seen any evidence that they have changed their attitude towards trying to ensure that Zanu (PF) will emerge victorious."
Zimbabwe will vote on a new constitution on March 16 and hold crunch elections in July, Tsvangirai said on Wednesday, setting a timetable that will end the unity administration between the MDC-T leader and veteran President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai won the first round of the Presidential ballot in 2008 but pulled out of the run-off accusing Mugabe of brutalising his supporters.
Khama said he feared a repeat of that violence.
"I think that they (Mugabe supporters) are still capable of trying to engage in intimidation, deploying the security services to bring that about … telling the people in the security services how they should vote. The potential for that is still there."
Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai have urged supporters to desit from violence and ensure peaceful elections.
Still, Khama said he would urge his SADC colleagues to send an election monitoring team well before the polls "so that you can monitor all the kinds of things that went wrong before the election last time and give comfort to the citizens, to be able to go about their political campaigning knowing observers are there."
He said the Zimbabwean authorities should be persuaded to drop their objections to international observers.