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SADC must demand ED account for 7 killed protesters - but much, much more; for rigged elections

18 Aug 2018 at 17:23hrs | Views
"THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has implored SADC to issue an ultimatum on President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa's government to explain the fatal shooting of at least seven civilians by the military on August 1 following the July 30 disputed polls," reported Newsday.

"Various civic society groups who made their presentations at the 38th SADC People's Summit in Namibia challenging the regional bloc to develop teeth and pin Zimbabwe's leadership on the gross violations of people's rights."

Yes, it is good that Zanu PF should be held to account for the shooting of the unarmed protesters but most important of all the regime must be held to account for failing to hold free, fair and credible elections. The root cause of all Zimbabwe's political turmoil and instability and economic meltdown and heart-breaking human sufferings and deaths is this one thing - the country's failure to hold free, fair and credible elections.

It must be stated here and now that the elections in Zimbabwe were NOT free, fair and credible. SADC leaders owe it to the people of Zimbabwe and the region to reverse the regional body's election observer team's decision to endorse the elections as free, fair and credible.

How can these elections ever be judged free, fair and credible when 2 to 3 million Zimbabweans in the diaspora were denied the vote? There was no free public media. ZEC failed to produce a clean and verified voters' roll, this is a common sense and legal requirement that the authorities have repeatedly ignored. Zanu PF robbed the nation blind to bankroll its vote-rigging schemes and so the list of irregularities goes on.

Yes, these elections were relatively peaceful compared to say the barbarism of the 2008 elections; a point noted by the SADC observers. It will be a sad day for Africa if those in power are allowed to blatantly deny millions of people the vote in favour of mystery voters on an imaginary voters' roll as long as the ruling elite keep a lid on the violence.

In Zimbabwe, Zanu PF did keep the lid on the violence before and during the voting but clearly failed to do so after voting day. The street protesters were ordinary Zimbabweans venting their anger and frustration at flawed and illegal electoral process that has once again blatantly denied them a meaningful say in the governance of the country.

By failing to keep his promise to hold free, fair and credible elections; President Mnangagwa has, whether he likes it or not, scarred away the foreign investors and lenders he has been ever since last November's coup. Investors are a shrewd and savvy lot, they do not do business in pariah states ruled by vote-rigging thugs.

In a few months' time the people of Zimbabwe will soon realise that the economic recovery the Zanu PF junta had promised is all a mirage and there will be more street protests. Unemployment has soared to 90%, by the regime's own admission 75% of the people are living on US$1.00 or less day, basic services like clean running water have all but collapse, etc.; it is naïve for anyone to expect the people to put up with and not protest.

Zanu PF has so far managed to keep a lid on street protests by using brute force as the regime did on 1st August. But as long as the underlying cause of the people's anger is not address, i.e. the worsening economic hardship, what the regime was doing was add fuel to the fire and holding down the relief valve of the pressure cooker.

This is very dangerous and SADC must do all it can to end the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe before the pressure cooker explode!

 It is not too late for SADC to declare the Zimbabwe elections null and void. This will clear the way for Zimbabwe to revisit the raft of democratic reforms, very one agreed were necessary for free and fair elections at the onset of the 2008 GNU, and make sure they are finally implemented.

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