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SA parties alarmed as ANC enlists Zanu-PF help for election campaign

by Staff reporter
19 May 2024 at 11:43hrs | Views
ZIMBABWEAN state media on Tuesday broke the news that the country's ruling party, Zanu-PF, had been called on by the ANC to assist with its final stretch of campaigning ahead of South Africa's general elections on 29 May.

The Herald reported that Zanu-PF had "been invited by [its] colleagues in the ANC to be part of their mobilisation process in the last few days of campaigning".

Zanu-PF secretary-general Obert Mpofu told the newspaper, somewhat cryptically: "We have been in touch with the South African ruling party. What is happening there is an internal issue which we are closely monitoring. I cannot rule out the fact that we can go and assist if they need assistance from us. There are pressing issues that need to be addressed by South Africans on the political developments taking place there."

Neither Zanu-PF nor the ANC responded to Daily Maverick's request for comment on Thursday.

However, SABC radio news tweeted on Thursday: "The ANC has confirmed that Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF will assist the party during its election campaigns and will also be part of the observer missions during the May 29 elections."

On Wednesday, SABC TV news broadcast a clip of ANC Deputy Secretary-General Nomvula Mokonyane addressing journalists while campaigning in KwaZulu-Natal. Mokonyane confirmed that the ANC had called on "African leaders" to act as election observers.

Mokonyane said, "We must also learn from how Zanu-PF has been able to renew itself and even reclaim constituencies that in the past they have not. Same with us, we have to reclaim and prepare a takeover of the lost metros in South Africa."

Opposition parties respond with outrage

The South African opposition was quick to point to Zanu-PF's problematic electoral record as news spread of the development on Thursday.

Mmusi Maimane's Build One South Africa (Bosa) said it was "widely accepted" that the Zimbabwean ruling party "rigs elections in Zimbabwe to favour itself and to continue its misrule of the party".

Zanu-PF "has presided over an autocratic, authoritarian and repressive regime", Bosa said.
Maimane's party had a message for Zanu-PF: "They are not welcome in South Africa."

The Democratic Alliance (DA), meanwhile, charged that the ANC's invitation to Zanu-PF to participate in its campaign programme "amounts to political interference with our elections".

The party did not elaborate on which provisions of the Electoral Act it believed the ANC had violated through this, but said it would lodge a complaint with the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) over a "foreign political party" actively "pursuing a partisan political agenda on behalf of the ANC".

The DA noted that after Zimbabwe's most recent elections in August 2023, which saw President Emmerson Mnangagwa win a second term, election observers, including the regional SADC Election Observer Mission, had raised concerns over the freedom and fairness of the polls.

The ANC, however, endorsed the election results - and considers Zanu-PF a sister party.

Hypocrisy over desire for Western election observers?

Some commentators suggested it was hypocritical to want election observers to monitor South Africa's 29 May elections only if they are from Western countries.

Rise Mzansi's spokesperson, Gugu Ndima, said the DA's controversial appeal to the US and to the European Union in March to send election observers to South Africa was disingenuous when contrasted with the party's outrage over the Zimbabwean invitation.

Ndima said both the DA and ANC's appeals were problematic, given that both the Zimbabwean and the US political systems were marked by "elections controversy", and given that both parties had issued direct invitations without involving the IEC.

She said: "As Rise Mzansi, we fully support the standard practice of having election observers, whether they come from Zimbabwe or the US, but this must be managed by the appropriate authority, that being the Electoral Commission."

IEC should manage observer process

The IEC itself has expressed a similar sentiment.

IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said the DA's appeal to Western governments was procedurally unorthodox.

"The commission believes that elections must be observed because observation gives us credibility," Mamobolo was quoted as saying at the time.

"Nonetheless, we are alive to the fact that the letter by the DA is directly to an executive in another country. That is not how ordinarily the observation process works. Often the observation works at a multilateral level: AU, SADC and so on."

At the time, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the DA's invitation to Western powers, saying: "For a non-state entity to do something like that is basically saying we are mortgaging our democracy."

The ANC is, of course, also a non-state entity.

Source - Daily Maverick
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