MDC-T minimum conditions for elections

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Statement by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai on the party’s “minimum conditions” for elections issued on April 25, 2013:

Good afternoon members of the press corps and fellow citizens.

Following the successful Yes vote for a new Constitution andsubsequent processes to be undertaken for the adoption of the newcharter, there has been debate on the context, substance andcharacter of the next election and when it will be held. At Principals’ level, we have since tasked the minister of Justice and theMinister of Constitutional Affairs with consulting all the relevantpolitical parties as they draft the legal and the political roadmap beforesubmitting it to us as principals for the determination of the electiondate.

We are also alive to the fact that SADC and the AU, as guarantors of theGPA, are major stakeholders in determining the conditions andframework of a free and fair election and they will definitely becontinuously consulted.

But for us in the party of excellence, the people’s party, the MDC, it isclear that there are many issues that need to be addressed if we are tohave a plebiscite that is free, fair and credible as envisaged under theGPA and expected by the people of Zimbabwe, our brothers and sistersin SADC and the AU.

While the process of the roadmap is being dealt with, there are manysoftware and hardware issues we have to address if we are to hold acredible election, key among them the many reforms that we haveagreed on as political parties and as Principals but remainunimplemented.

As a party of excellence, we have outlined and stated the key minimumconditions for the holding of a credible, free and fair election, namely:

# Guaranteeing the security of the vote, the security of the voter and the security of the outcome of the vote

All Zimbabweans must vote in peace without intimidation,victimisation, violence or being forced to attend a politicalmeeting of this or that party. No “bases” and vigilante groups inour villages, suburbs or communities. The people’s will must berespected and guaranteed.

# Undertaking of a ward-based nationwide voter education, registration and inspection by ZEC for a minimum of two months

All Zimbabweans including the so-called aliens must be able toregister and inspect the voters roll to ensure their names are onthe roll.

All political players and citizens must have access to the voters rollin searchable and auditable form.

The residence qualification must not be limited but include apersonal affidavit validating a place of residence. Zimbabweansmust know the importance of voting for a party of their choice.
# Addressing issue of the ZEC secretariat to ensure impartiality, credibility and legitimacy in light of the 2008 electoral experienceAdvertisement

The ZEC secretariat must not include partisan elements andindividuals who have displayed overt partisan bias andinclinations. The secretariat must be apolitical, professional andabove all inspire confidence in the voting public.

# Media Reforms

The ZBC and all publicly funded media must be impartial andobjective in covering all political players and the public. Theremust be no hate speech, no hate language and no malicious andpartisan reporting. There must be fair and objective coverage forall who wish to be covered.

There must be registration of truly independent and private radioand television broadcasters before elections to provideZimbabweans with truly alternative platforms of communication.

# Inclusive invitation and accreditation of election observers six months before and after the election

The composition, structure and operations of the accreditationcommittee should reflect inclusivity and the true spirit of anindependent ZEC. Accreditation must be decentralised.Accreditation must be done in terms of the SADC guidelines onelections whose purpose is to ensure total transparency of theelectoral process as opposed to other parochial and partisanconsiderations which do not serve that purpose.

The observers must be invited without bias or partisanconsiderations.
# The logistics of the election, the selection and deployment of polling officers and stations must be inclusive under the control of ZEC
ZEC must follow international best practice where the civilservice staff and ZEC staff undertake a transparent hiring process.Political parties need to be involved in ballot paper design andauditing, production process and distribution of ballots as wassuccessfully done in Zambia and Kenya.

# Electoral law amendments and reforms

We must ensure that the laws governing elections are in line withthe Constitution and the expectations of the people. Repressivelaws such as POSA and AIPPA have no role to play in a free andfair election as envisaged by SADC guidelines on that subject.

# The code of conduct for our security forces during elections

The role of the security sector in this election must be clearlydefined in line with international best practice. The security sectormust be professional, impartial, and non-partisan and desist fromovertly making partisan political statements and abusing Stateresources to further the narrow partisan interests. Security forcesare a national asset belonging to the people of Zimbabwe forpeace and tranquility and not the opposite.

The major stumbling block to the implementation to the above alreadyagreed reforms remains a palpable deficit of political will to implementagreed issues, without which we are likely to reproduce electoralcontestations and a disputed outcome.
While the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must be responsible foreverything to do with elections, there are disturbing reports of theinvolvement of spooky and shadowy elements in civilian issues of thevoters’ roll and registration, with the Registrar-General being thecivilian face AND FORCE of this murky system.

As the MDC, the people’s party of excellence, we want to state andrestate that there shall be no credible election without theimplementation of the aforementioned minimum reforms.

In a short while, I will be visiting players within SADC and the AU toensure that the people of Zimbabwe are guaranteed of a free and fairelection that will usher in a new dispensation.

It is my fervent prayer that peace prevails in our beloved and beautifulcountry. Peace in the home, peace in the community, peace in all thedour corners of our country.Yes, peace in parties and peace in all political processes including ournational elections.

God bless you.