By Tichaona Sibanda
18 February 2013
President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai met in Harare on Monday to discuss, among other things, a replacement for the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Citing health reasons Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe, the former chair of ZEC, resigned last week just months before the country holds crucial harmonized elections. Mutambanengwe, a London-trained lawyer, was appointed as ZEC chairperson on 31st March 2010.
A source close to Mondays talks between Mugabe and Tsvangirai told SW Radio Africa that the other items on the leaders’ agenda were political violence, media bias and deferment of the referendum date from March 16th to the end of month.
The leaders are reportedly contemplating pushing the referendum back to the end of the month, because of lack of money to fund the poll.
ZEC announced recently that they need as much as $88 million to bankroll the process but apparently no money has yet been found for the process, despite promises from the United Nations Development Program to help raise the cash.
However, the main item on the agenda involved the two leaders scrutinizing the names of possible candidates to take over from Mutambanengwe. The two names that have been mentioned in political discussions in the past days are that of the former Supreme Court Judge Wilson Sandura and Moses Chinhengo, a former High Court Judge.
Also discussed were the MDC-T’s complaints about the state media for its relentless hate speech and partisan nature. It’s believed Tsvangirai insisted during the meeting that media reforms are essential to ensure a divergence of views ahead of elections.
United States based political analyst Dr Maxwell Shumba told us the latest crackdown on NGO’s was meant stop their work on educating people on elections in Zimbabwe.
‘It’s all about intimidating these organizations to stop their voter education activities. These organizations stand for the people and without them very little gets to the common man in the rural areas,’ Shumba added.