MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai believes the only way to bring about the much-needed electoral reforms in the country is to apply pressure on the government.
Source: Let’s apply more pressure on the system: Tsvangirai – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 24, 2016
Below are excerpts of the interview:
ND: You will be joining other opposition parties on Friday on a National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera)-led demonstration. Why are you participating and also, what’s the importance of this demonstration?
MT: For a very long time, we have been entrapped in disputed elections in this country and it’s not by accident because by design Zanu PF has never put in place an acceptable electoral management system.
If you look at all the benchmarks for what is a credible election, you will start off by asking yourself if we do have an independent electoral commission. It’s up to dispute because the manner in which this electoral commission is being subverted by a secretariat, which is appointed from the security establishment, in itself undermines the independence of this process.
If you look at the voters’ roll in the last election, we didn’t even have a voters’ roll (and) how do you run an election without one? If you look at the violence that is sometimes associated with elections in this country, you begin to say this is the only way people are being frog-marched, are being intimidated and are being forced to support a party that they don’t choose. These are very critical issues.
Then you go to the question of the electoral process itself, about the various proofs that people have voted twice.
In the last election, we had slips and we had a situation where six million ballots were printed for three million registered voters. We had a situation where rigging in all parts of the country was so prevalent that even Zanu PF itself was not sure how they won the election.
All these come to one point: Why can’t we run an election like South Africans do? Like Botswana has done? They are good examples of how an election can be conducted where the opposition and the winner congratulate each other. That’s how an election is conducted.
For us, we have had these disputes ever since I started participating in elections. Worse still, we won the election in 2008 (and President Robert) Mugabe refused to give up power. Unless there is an assurance that the mandate of the people is respected, then you have situations where even the mandate is subverted by other extra-judicial and extra-constitutional methods.
That is why our campaign for electoral reforms is critical for the next election. That is why all political parties agree under Nera to come, express and demonstrate that there have to be reforms for us before we go for elections.
It’s timely because there is still time to correct all the unconstitutional processes that are being put in place. Already, we are hearing that people are being registered, but is this not supposed to be an open process where people will register? Why is there secrecy?
In fact, we are going to move that Parliament must ask Zec to give us a roadmap to the next election with clear benchmarks. We want to see clear benchmarks for that process to be transparent and we are going to demonstrate to the effect that these issues are addressed.
ND: Who is the target of this demonstration? Are you targeting individuals or it’s the entire system?
MT: It’s the entire system and it has nothing to do with individuals because individuals are also subverted by the system. We are saying that we have to have full confidence in the election management system and it includes the constitution of Zec itself, the manner in which it is being administered and the manner in which political parties play a part. We all have to be involved at every stage. Where we have grievances, there must be an avenue to resolve those grievances.
ND: The challenges?
MT: There are a lot of gaps and, in fact, we are the only electoral system in the region which is not even complying with the basic standards of managing elections.
ND: What is your message to those who want to participate on Friday?
MT: What I am saying to Zimbabwe is that let’s come together, let’s demonstrate and let’s put pressure on the regime and let’s put pressure on Zec to correct those issues we are raising and I am calling on all Zimbabweans to come and join.
ND: Do you think the government will bow to pressure?
MT: We are not acting because they will bow to pressure. We are putting pressure and to me that is sufficient. Zimbabweans must begin to break out of fear of the regime. They must begin to express themselves so that the regime has no option, but to listen.
ND: In the event that there are no reforms, what will happen next?
MT: Well, that is an assessment we will have to make at a particular point in the process. We want to participate in the elections, but sometimes, circumstances dictate behaviour (and) that it’s not feasible for us to go blindfold into an election which we know is going to be rigged. So those are options that we will have to exercise at that particular moment.
But we want to participate in the elections. We were formed to participate in elections and that is what we want, but where there are all these challenges and obstacles, it will be almost naïve to believe that we can go blindfold into an electoral process which we know will be rigged even before we start.