Zimbabwe - Mnangagwa's Level Playing Field Claims Rebuffed
Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa last week pointed to a large opposition MDC rally as evidence of a level playing field ahead of the upcoming national elections due on 30 July.
However, following his comments a number of third party and civil society groups have responded with their own assessment of the situation. Election observers from the US-based groups the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute have cautioned that several reforms are needed to ensure a credible vote, notably to ensure a transparent voters’ roll (as demanded by the MDC), the participation of opposition parties and the military’s respect for the process and outcome. Their comments came following a joint mission to the country and on the back of an opposition march in Harare to demand electoral reforms.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) also spoke out last week to express concern regarding the government’s failure to institute necessary legal and electoral reforms. Interviews conducted by the group in the country have revealed evidence of intimidation by ruling party supporters.
The group’s Southern Africa director has cautioned: “President Mnangagwa needs to go beyond mere rhetoric and take genuine steps to level the playing field for all candidates and their parties.”
Meanwhile the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has stressed the importance of the military standing back from the polls in order to ensue a credible election. HRW also cautioned on this note, stating: "Mnangagwa and his administration should level the electoral playing field by preventing the military from engaging in partisan politics or interfering in electoral processes, and taking strong action to deter violence and intimidation by the military during the campaign period and elections."