Friday, December 16, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE, REUTERS) Tsvangirai calls for reforms before vote

COMMENT - Anglo-American De Beers, the world's diamond mining and trading monopolist, has the national diamond mining monopolies across the border from Zimbabwe, in both Botswana and South Africa. Zimbabwe sits on 20% of the world's known diamond reserves. Anglo American wants and needs the same in Zimbabwe, so it can control the flow of diamonds onto the world market.

Tsvangirai calls for reforms before vote
15/12/2011 00:00:00
by Cris Chinaka I Reuters

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday demanded more electoral reforms before polls that his rival, President Robert Mugabe, wants to bring forward to next year.

In an end-of-year address to parliament, Tsvangirai, who was forced into an awkward power-sharing government with Mugabe's Zanu PF after disputed elections three years ago, accused Zanu PF ministers of failing to ease their party's control of radio and television.

"The year 2012 must not be characterised by rhetoric about an early election that is not accompanied by the necessary will to ensure free and fair election as agreed by the parties," he said.

"Political stability is key to our prosperity as a nation and only a free and fair election can guarantee legitimacy, peace and stability."

Although Zanu PF and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change have stabilised an economy that in 2008 was struggling with food shortages and inflation of 500 billion percent, they are constantly quarrelling over policies and posts.

Mugabe still controls the security organs, whose failure to make themselves properly accountable has prompted donors to withhold funding critical to a sustained economic recovery.

The coalition's list of unimplemented reforms includes the adoption of a new electoral law handing over the registration of voters to an independent commission, and the establishment of special courts for election issues.

Zanu PF agreed at a party conference last weekend to press for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2012, a year ahead of schedule, to end a unity government that it accuses of slowing down its black economic empowerment drive.

The conference endorsed Mugabe, 87, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, as its presidential candidate despite worries among some party officials that he is too old and unwell, with terminal prostate cancer, to stay on.
South African help

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the neighbouring regional power South Africa has promised to help Mugabe's Zanu PF come up with a winning strategy, which analysts say could be a reflex move to support a fellow liberation movement.

Tsvangirai, 59, whose public image has been hurt by controversies over his relationships with women since the death of his wife in 2009, noted that the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in which South Africa plays a key part, had overseen an agreement on electoral reform between Zanu PF and the MDC.

Mugabe denies MDC allegations that his Zanu PF has cheated the MDC of victory in four major elections since 2000, and last month addressed a joint conference with Tsvangirai to denounce election violence.

On Thursday, Tsvangirai, who was forced to withdraw from a presidential runoff in 2008 after a wave of violence by Zanu PF supporters, said the call for peace had to be implemented on the ground after a spate of attacks and clashes in some parts of the country.

The MDC fears that Zanu PF will employ the kind of violence it has used in almost all elections in the past decade to intimidate its opponents. It has no power to prevent Mugabe calling an early election.

"Mr Speaker Sir, the next year must register growth, set a firm foundation for a free and fair poll and, above all, give every Zimbabwean hope that indeed, the future of this country is our shared concern," he told parliament.

Tsvangirai said the Ministry of Media and Information, headed by Mugabe's political commissar Webster Shamu, had defied a government order to appoint new board members to manage state media houses, and to issue new radio and television licences to break a state monopoly in broadcasting.

Critics say two radio licences issued last month went to Zanu PF proxies.

"To date, there has been outright arrogance and intransigence from the responsible minister and his officials," Tsvangirai said. There was no immediate comment from the Information Ministry.

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