Analysts confirmed last week that Zimbabwe cannot have free and fair polls next year if there are no radical political and electoral reforms in line with Southern African Development Community (SADC) election guidelines.
In their view, South African President Thabo Mbeki's pronouncement on 30 August that Zimbabwe will have free and fair polls (in 2008) ignores the political situation on the ground where the ruling Zanu PF has an upper hand against the opposition.
The analysts note that Zanu PF has "unfettered access to state resources …, while the majority of the opposition survives on shoe-string budgets."
To illustrate this, we include an article from the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper which reports that Zanu PF is mobilising resources, including a staggering Z$600 billion, for its election campaign "since Mugabe has vowed to win at all costs".
David Chimhini, executive director of the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust, says Zimbabwe cannot have free and fair elections "when we have failed to adopt the SADC election guidelines of which we are a signatory." He also stresses the need to level the playing field, which is currently tilted in favour of Zanu PF.
In a surprising turn of events, our lead story reports that the Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, has for the first time complained of pressure from politicians to register "certain groups of people". It transpires he has unlawfully used an interpretation of the Citizenship Act to deprive millions of potential Zimbabwean voters, mainly farm workers, of the right to vote.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has urged Mudede to re-launch mobile voter registration, saying that insufficient publicity led to the poor turnout. The ZESN notes that the operation has also been undermined by insufficient funding, unqualified personnel and corruption among traditional leaders.
An article from SW Radio Africa, which is barred from operating in Zimbabwe, says Zanu PF has demonstrated its priorities by allocating Z$12,662 trillion or 33 percent of the supplementary budget to defence and security organisations while the National Water Authority is struggling for resources to provide adequate water for the people.
Once again Mugabe is buying the support of senior members of the army and police, as well as the Central Intelligence Organisation, by spending thousands of US dollars on luxury vehicles while the country has no foreign currency for essentials like drugs.