In an article posted on his website last Friday, Eddie Cross said Zimbabwe is in a better place to hold a reasonable election since 1964.
My concern about the real freedom of the voter to exercise their democratic rights in secrecy in a polling station and not face retribution afterwards, remain and whatever happens, will be an unseen factor.
Still, this is Africa and we must allow for a gradual assumption of such rights — after all it took Britain 600 years to get there and we could argue that many older States are still not there in all respects. The one thing that is true, is that we are in a much better place to hold a reasonable election than at any time since 1964.
He also said Zimbabwe has a long way to go in terms of democracy saying that there are still problems such as the lack of access to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Said Cross:
The Opposition had to go to the Courts to get electronic access to the roll, but that may now happen and will be a first since Independence. But many essential reforms to ensure a free and fair election are still not implemented. However, despite that, my friends in Zanu PF tell me with a big smile – this election will be better that those in Kenya! They also say that it may not be free and fair in the classical sense, but it will be ‘smart’.
The great difference this time is that international observers and the media are now welcome guests and not ‘enemies of the State’. We do not have to smuggle them in as ‘golfers’ or to smuggle their footage out once it is captured.
The interaction with ZEC, as opposed to that secretive old man at the Registrar Generals Office, Mudede, is completely different – they listen, may not do anything, but at least we have access and get a hearing.
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