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Africa

Cross: "We demand a fresh election"

International unease has mounted over the re-election of Africa's oldest leader, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in polls denounced by the country's opposition as "stolen."

President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, beat his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai in Wednesday's polls garnering 61 percent of the presidential vote. His party also secured a substantial parliamentary majority. But Tsvangirai, 61, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who has unsuccessfully tried to unseat Mugabe three times, condemned the vote as "fraudulent and stolen" and has vowed to challenge it in court.

DW: Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he will challenge the decision in court. Do you think that MDC will have any success?

Eddie Cross: We will challenge the presidential ballot and we will challenge a number of constituencies at the same time. The principle motivation for doing this is not in anticipation of getting a decent decision from the courts, because the courts themselves are compromised in serious way, but is to put everything on record, legally.

What would be the next step?

We expect the court to delay the swearing in of the president for at least a month. What the SADC states and the African Union delegation here have said over the weekend is that they will give us a month to present a substantive evidence of the rigging of this election. And Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, has said specifically that if we can demonstrate that the poll was rigged to the extent of 25 percent that in fact would justify invalidating the election and calling for fresh elections and that's our goal, that's our immediate objective.

SADC was very quick to come out and say that the election went pretty fine and the African Union did likewise. Do you really think they would change their mind if you come up with evidence that the elections were manipulated?

If you read the actual reports of both organizations, the reports themselves are actually fine. We have no problem - particularly with the report of African Union.It is a very good document, it is technically sound. And it is just what I told you - that this election was seriously flawed, it does not reflect the views of the people and it also details how it was done. The remarks that you were referring to were verbal remarks by the chairmen of the two observer missions at a press conference the day after the election. I think both of them are regretting their preliminary statements, because I think it is beginning to dawn on them the seriousness of the situation here. The results are simply unbelievable. And you probably saw the call by Australia, Britain and the United States, that they should be a re-run of the election and that this result is not credible. Heads of state of the SADC will meet on Wednesday in Malawi and I think they are going to have a very different perspective at that meeting.

Last time round SADC and South Africa in particular, were rather taking a line of saying let's work together, MDC and ZANU-PF. If this time around they would again make that recommendation and say let's try to form some sort of a coalition government, do you think the MDC could agree to that?

Our position would be very clear. What we would call for is that we just keep the present government, which is the government of the national unity, in place as a caretaker administration until a fresh election can be organized. The new election would have to meet certain criteria. We will demand a completely independent, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), for example, the present ZEC is totally compromised. We will demand a brand new voters' roll, probably a biometric roll produced by a commercial firm rather than a department of government. We would demand the reforms that were not implemented prior to this election and which had been agreed in the Global Political Agreement: security sector reform, media reform and so on. And only then, would we then go into a second election. And this time we would repudiate the results of this election completely and ask for a fresh ballot on all seats that were up contesting in the past election.

You said that you want to work through the courts, that you want to talk to the SADC and the African Union, on the hand there are reports that some MDC members want to take more confrontational approach and call for a campaign of civil disobedience. Is there sort of a split in the party over how to deal with the situation now?

No, I attended the meeting of the national executive on Saturday and a meeting of all MPs on Sunday. And our resolution was absolutely unanimous, we have decided to go the route that we have announced, in other words, we are pursuing both the political and a legal challenge. We are not contemplating in any sense any kind of mass action. The reason for that is that we believe that the security forces here would then anticipate such an action and in fact would take very harsh measures against us. We are simply not prepared to expose our people to that kind of abuse, where we don't really see it achieving any thing, in fact it might just be what the regime wants from us. They would want to see an Egyptian-type solution where people go out on the streets and then the military would take charge and then we really are in trouble. We don't want the military anywhere near political control here. We want to remain with authority in civilian hands and we will strive very hard to keep it that way. What we need is a fresh election.

Supposing SADC and the AU don't put any pressure on the government to organize a fresh election and you hit a dead end. What are you going to do then?

Then we will have a really serious problem, if ZABU-PF is allowed assume total authority which they in fact haven't secured as a result of this election. Their track record shows that they simply they will not hesitate to abuse that authority. And if they will re introduce Zimbabwe dollar and reintroduce the exchange control and price control and all the things that we suffered from prior to 2008, the economy will simply be going to a nose dive, and I can't see Zimbabwe surviving a second round of a crisis of that nature. And if that happens, then South Africa will be subject to an influx of Zimbabwean refugees as they were before. And I think that would destabilize South Africa itself. So I really don't think really is a sustainable solution.

Eddie Cross is a Member of Parliament for Bulawayo South and a founding member of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe.

Interview: Daniel Pelz

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