Zimbabwe is on track for another flawed election this year unless it can refresh outdated voter lists, approve “an army” of outsider observers and find foreign donors willing to pay for the vote, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Monday. However, postponing the poll to maintain a stop-gap unity government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is not an option, with the fractious coalition well past its sell-by date, Biti told a Reuters Africa Summit. “I don’t think we are in a position today, right now, of having legitimate, credible, sustainable elections,” Biti, a leading member of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, said. “At the rate we are going, it is obvious that we are going to have another flawed election … Zimbabweans cannot afford another flawed election.”
Zimbabweans last month approved a new constitution curbing presidential powers that critics say have been used by Mugabe to entrench his 33-year rule. The referendum removed the main barrier to an election in the second half of this year after a disputed 2008 poll.
But more reforms are needed to reassure investors who have withheld support over charges of human rights abuses and election-rigging by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and criticism of policies such as his seizure of white-owned farms for blacks.
The unity pact between ZANU-PF and the MDC has gone some way towards arresting an economy damaged by more than a decade of hyper-inflation which rendered the Zimbabwe dollar worthless.
Inflation has slowed to single digits while growth is seen above 5 percent this year after contracting for a decade before the unity government was established.