Felex Share Senior Reporter
Zanu-PF says Zimbabwe is experiencing its most peaceful pre-election period in years, one of the prerequisites for credible polls, but cautioned the nation to be wary of opposition parties trying to foment chaos ahead of the July 30 harmonised elections.
This comes as police yesterday cleared a march by the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance in Harare today under a caveat that those who break the law during the demonstrations should be ready for severe consequences.
MDC Alliance claims the march is to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to accede to its demands for a myriad electoral reforms.
These include getting political parties involved in the procurement of election materials, deciding the quality of ballot papers and who prints them, issues not backed by law.
ZEC yesterday said it was not fazed by the demands as all political parties were aware of its official position on those issues.
The demands by the MDC Alliance come at a time when President Mnangagwa has already proclaimed the election date and signed the Electoral Amendment Act, which was agreed by all the major political parties.
Section 157(5) of the Constitution states; “After an election has been called, no change to the electoral law or to any other law relating to elections, has effect for the purpose of that election.”
Zanu-PF spokesman, who is also Acting Minister for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, yesterday said the move by the MDC Alliance was “unfortunate and extremely irresponsible”.
“Following the ushering in of the new dispensation, the country is currently experiencing the most peaceful pre-election moments in the post-independence history of Zimbabwe and the prevailing peace and tranquillity which are the anchors for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections,” he said. “In fact the claims being made by Chamisa and crew are bare and not ground on the position of law. What comes out abundantly clear is that the MDC-T is a violent and retrogressive party whose existence thrives on chaos and suffering of people hence the utterances cannot come as a surprise.”
He urged Zimbabweans to remain “united as they prepare to freely exercise their democratic right to elect leaders of their choice as treasured in the national Constitution.”
“It is evident that Chamisa clearly knows that their party is in shambles hence not ready to face the revolutionary Zanu-PF in the pending elections,” Cde Khaya Moyo said.
“The Zanu-PF Government under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa has laid the foundation to peaceful, fair and credible elections. Last week, President Mnangagwa signed the Electoral Act to bring legal effect to the biometric voter registration carried out by ZEC and create a new code of conduct for political parties, candidates and other stakeholders in elections. This is a milestone achievement which every peace-loving Zimbabwean including Chamisa, should cherish.”
ZEC chairwoman Justice Priscilla Chigumba said while it was everyone’s right to demonstrate, all political parties were aware of the electoral body’s official position.
“We had a stakeholders’ engagement with political parties that are in Parliament last week,” she said.
“We respect their right to exercise their rights enshrined in the Constitution. All I can say is that they have been formally advised of our position with regards to the issues they are demonstrating against.”
Police said they would not hesitate to invoke relevant provisions of the law if the MDC Alliance violated set conditions.
Police said the march should start from Africa Unity Square and proceed along Jason Mayo Avenue to the intersection of Harare Street and Jason Moyo.
Less than five people should hand over the petition to ZEC.
“After handing over the petition, you shall proceed along Harare Street (and) turn right into Samora Machel Avenue, turn right into First Street and turn left into Nelson Mandela back to Africa Unity Square,” reads a letter written to MDC-T secretary general Mr Douglas Mwonzora by the police.
“Please confine your march to the above stated venue, route and time outlined. Police will monitor. Your cooperation with the police and other Government agents will be greatly appreciated.”
MDC-T national organising secretary Mr Amos Chibaya told journalists yesterday they would hand over another petition to Government at Munhumutapa offices.
The letter from the police does not mention Munhumutapa offices.
“We can follow that (stipulated) route but we can still hand over the petition,” Mr Chibaya said.
Asked to explain how they hoped to effect the changes as President Mnangagwa had proclaimed the election date, he said: “No reforms, no elections.”
On the other hand, Mr Mwonzora acknowledged the electoral terrain had changed and their conditions had been met.
“We do have a little bit of movement regarding the observation of the printing of the ballot paper, the accreditation of observers who are coming and coverage by the media although we still have a problem regarding the extent of that coverage by the State media,” he told online publication New Zimbabwe.
Analysis have said demands by the MDC Alliance undermine the independence of commissions, most of which came into being at the behest of opposition parties themselves during the Government of National Unity from 2009 – 2013.
Before the GNU, the executive system did not have constitutional commissions.