Biti urges UN observers for ‘violent’ 2018 polls
By Nkosana Dlamini
PEOPLE’S Democratic Party (PDP) leader and MDC Alliance principal, Tendai Biti (pictured) has called for the immediate deployment of United Nations (UN) observers to Zimbabwe to monitor what he predicts shall be violent elections in the country this year.
He was co-panelist during a Thursday SAPES Trust dialogue meeting co-sponsored by the Information for Development Trust, a local NGO which supports work tailored towards exposing rampant public sector corruption.
In his address, the ex-finance minister dismissed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vows to deliver a flawless election in four months’ time, insisting the military will work to deter a Zanu PF poll defeat.
Biti said an early deployment of UN observers would ensure Zimbabwean elections did not slide back to the violent chaos akin to past polls.
“There have to be international observers who have to come now much before the election if they have to play a meaningful role.
“We are proposing the role of the UN. And the UN must have both a technical role and a supervisory role in this country and we believe that if the UN is going to play that insurance role, you might not need peacekeepers.
“We need the UN to play a special role in this election and as MDC Alliance, we have already started talking with the UN.”
Despite anticipated violence, Biti was confident the MDC Alliance which PDP is party to, will romp to victory on the back of what he sees as renewed excitement around elections among the more than 5 million citizens who have since registered to vote.
The former treasury boss said the MDC Alliance will ride on latent fissures between Zanu PF war veterans and former military personnel tussle for party control in the aftermath of President Robert Mugabe’s ouster November last year.
Biti said there was also apparent disquiet within the State apparatus as evidenced by the continued purging of top officials in the police and the CIO and this, he said, could help propel the biggest opposition alliance to electoral victory.
He further said President Emmerson Mnangagwa has soiled his name through involvement in the country’s most bloody episodes and this could turn out to be his waterloo in his bid to seek his first mandate from the people.
Biti said the opposition alliance shall seek to leverage its vote on the economy that has failed to recover during Mnangagwa’s short stint at State house, as he insisted the new administration was incapable of replicating its “coup” on a stubborn economy.
On his part, lawyer and rights activist Tony Reeler accused former South African President Thabo Mbeki of having a hand in Zimbabwe’s 2008 violence that saw Zanu PF reverse its poll defeat to MDC-T and coming back through a GNU that was facilitated by SADC.
“I personally think that Thabo Mbeki and SADC had a lot of complicity in the violence that took place. There was a responsible position and an irresponsible position and they took the irresponsible position,” he said.
Reeler further scorned the Western world which he said has concentrated on attempts to maintain political stability in Zimbabwe as opposed to glaring reality of military interference into civilian affairs.
He further expressed dismay African observer groups have not gathered enough courage to discredit Zimbabwe’s often violent polls despite overwhelming evidence of vote fraud by the incumbent.
University of Zimbabwe journalism and media lecturer Wellington Gadzikwa took a swipe at what he said was now a compromised media which was abandoned its watchdog role to becoming “lapdog”.
He said the local media could nolonger be trusted for accurate news as it has either shown fear of possible victimisation by the current regime or has simply been corrupted by the system.
This, he said, has seen the media fail to put enough scrutiny in President Mnangagwa’s policies and continued pledges to deliver free and fair elections.
Gadzikwa said the local media has not helped matters either by becoming too inclined towards sensational news as opposed to substantive issues, adding that this compromised their watchdog role.