Vote likely on hold

Zimbabwe ill prepared for 31 July election

Many sources within and outside the country say that elections will not take place on 31 July as stipulated by a recent court ruling. More time will be needed to implement the reforms to the electoral system that have been provided for in the new constitution. The voter registration process, which only began in June, will not be complete and there is insufficient time for scrutiny of it by an independent body.
 – It is too soon to have elections, considering the amount of work that needs to be done beforehand. Nonetheless, Robert Mugabe’s governing Zanu-PF is keen to hold elections as soon as possible. It believes that the sooner the elections, the more likely the party is to win. Zanu-PF does not want a repeat of 2008, when it came very close to losing everything, does not want to make the same mistake again, says NAI researcher Eldridge Adolfo.

Furthermore, the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission needs to have staff trained, information disseminated to the people and voting places put in order. Organising the election process is also costly, and it is not clear what financial arrangements are in place for this purpose.

Intimidation will probably be an issue throughout this election campaign and ZANU (PF) supporters are already singing a song that warns: “If all else fails, we will return to June 2008,” a reference to the violence during the last elections. This disturbing tactic, which plays on the fear from 2008, may deter people from even going to the ballots. Those who do vote are likely to vote for Zanu-PF just to avoid violence. They voted against the ruling party last time, and met with a harsh response. Nobody wants a repetition of that.
– Unfortunately, the elections in and of themselves will not solve the problems of Zimbabwe. The crisis there is not simply about which party rules, but about long-term structural problems the nation as a whole needs to resolve, says Eldridge Adolfo.

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