Netsai Mushonga from the Women Coalition of Zimbabwe, the largest women coalition in the country said elections under the present environment would be an unwelcome development.
“Elections in Zimbabwe under the current state are a threat to social and economic well being of citizens”, said Mushonga addressing journalists on Thursday.
Harrison Nkomo from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) added that indications on the ground both prior and post SADC’s special summit held in Livingstone, Zambia demonstrated that the environment was not yet ready for a free and fair electoral contest.
“Since January this year about 819 human rights violations have been reported which is enough evidence to demonstrate that the country is not yet ready for a free and fair election”, added Nkomo.
Philip Pasirayi, Crisis’s spokesperson said it is paramount for SADC to ensure that conditions for a free and fair election are met prior to an election.
“For Zimbabwe to have free and fair elections, we need a democratic constitution, all soldiers deployed countrywide should be recalled to their respective barracks, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must be de-militarised, SADC must independently verify and certify the environment leading to an election that is conducive and that should deploy peace keeping monitors three months before and after elections to ensure smooth power transfer”, said Pasirayi.
Tiseke Kasambala from Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged SADC to have a reinforced team on the ground to assist with monitoring the situation.
Bishop Paul Verryn echoing sentiments expressed in the meeting by other speakers said indications on the ground proved beyond doubt that there was an upsurge of repression in Zimbabwe.
“As I am speaking right now, families of activists are being attacked in Zimbabwe. This is a new dynamic in Zimbabwe politics that is even posing threats to a free and fair election”, said Verryn who houses activists at his central Methodist church premises in Johannesburg.