Tendai Mugabe, Harare Bureau
Government has said Britain has no business in Zimbabwe’s internal elections and has no right to prescribe how the country should run its elections.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Secretary Mr George Charamba said any interference by the British administration in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs would be resisted.
Mr Charamba said Zimbabwe was a sovereign State and in no way should it pander to the whims and caprices of the British regime.
His remarks come in the wake of some reckless and unsubstantiated claims by the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Catriona Laing recently that the takeover of the procurement of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits by Government might compromise the credibility of next year’s elections.
Ms Laing preferred a situation where the Government of Zimbabwe surrendered the procurement of the BVR kits to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Mr Charamba queried why the British were interested on how the kits were being procured, yet they were not showing the same enthusiasm on how the country was procuring grain for drought relief.
“What is so special about those voting kits,” asked Mr Charamba.
“Why didn’t they meddle on how we procure grain for drought relief? What is she trying to say? We hope the Conservative government, which she represents, is not copying wrong things from the discredited (Tony) Blair government.
“If they made that mistake they will discover the resistance to that will just be stout. We are not a British colony and voting is a sovereign right.”
Mr Charamba added: “The British had elections a few years ago and more recently they had a referendum on whether to stay or get out of the European Union. Were the kits bought by the United Nations Development Programme?”
Although the British are not a stakeholder in Zimbabwe’s elections, Ms Laing said the Government of Zimbabwe should cite the type of material it wanted to purchase.
She said Britain was “concerned” on the transparency of the process, without elaborating where the concern was coming from.
“There are a number of conditions and recommendations that the African Union and Sadc made that need to be in place in order for all of us to have confidence that the elections, when they happen, will be free and fair,” she said.
“One of the issues we are concerned about is around the change of the procurement process around BVR. We wait to see how this is going to pan out.”
Government recently said it was now going to play a leading role in the procurement of the BVR kits instead of leaving the entire process to the UNDP.
There are a number of issues that led to that development, including a plot by Western governments to use the involvement of the UNDP to influence the outcome of Zimbabwe’s elections.
If things failed to go their way, they might cause instability in the country like what they did in Cote d’Ivoire during the tenure of President Laurent Gbagbo, observers said.
Analysts say elections were an internal process that should not be left in the hands of foreign institutions or Governments. They said it was interesting to explore why the opposition and Western governments were keen to involve UNDP in a purely internal and sovereign process such as elections.