HARARE, (Xinhua) — Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said the electoral playing field is now level following his signing of new electoral laws.
He was reacting to the demonstration on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and his city center offices by thousands of opposition activists making a raft of demands covering the current electoral environment.
The Herald newspaper reported Wednesday that Mnangagwa told reporters at State House that the uninterrupted demonstration showed that the opposition was enjoying democracy after he instructed security agencies to let it go ahead.
“They are enjoying democracy which exists in this country. I think they are so happy that there is an environment where they can express themselves right, left and centre. But of course in relation to the forthcoming harmonized elections, already less than two weeks ago, I signed into law the reforms relating to the Electoral Act, so the playing field is perfectly level,” he said.
Previous demonstrations had generally been met with heavy handedness from authorities during former President Robert Mugabe’s time.
Seven opposition parties under the banner of the MDC Alliance handed over a petition to ZEC and Mnangagwa demanding minimum conditions for the holding of “free, fair and credible elections”.
They said that the elections should be held in full compliance of the country’s constitution, the Electoral Act, the SADC principles and guidelines on democratic elections and the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
The parties are also demanding that there be full and proper agreement by all stakeholders on the procurement, security, quality and movement of all ballot material – in particular, the ballot paper.
Also among their demands is that ZEC should immediately retire any security personnel in its secretariat, whether currently or formerly employed by the security services, and that all military personnel allegedly deployed in rural areas should be withdrawn.
Although international observers are already coming on pre-election assessments, the alliance also demanded that “all international observers and monitors should now be allowed immediate access to Zimbabwe to monitor the election.
They also demanded equal access to and equal coverage of all political parties in the public media, in particular, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
“The holding of the 30th of July election is dependent on the conditions set above,” they warned.