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SADC condemnation of Zimbabwe elections drives ZANU PF into panic mode!

26 Aug 2023 at 13:57hrs | Views
Dr Nevers Mumba - Sadc observer mission chairperson
A week ago, I penned an article entitled, 'Peace isn't the only standard for free, fair and credible elections'.

These words could not have been truer and more relevant than today.

No one can deny that the just-held 23rd August harmonized elections were relatively peaceful - a fact fully acknowledged not only by ordinary Zimbabweans themselves, but also by the various election observer missions currently in the country.

This was truly remarkable, and we all need to give ourselves a huge pat on the back.

However, as much as we all love peace - as the backbone to the survival of any nation - this can never mean that the elections themselves were free, fair and credible.

Far from it!

I - as so many other journalists, activists and analysts - have never tired bringing to the fore the various issues which rendered the plebiscite flawed and discredited, way before the election day itself arrived.

In this discourse, I will not even bother repeating what I have already written.

Besides, these have now been aptly seen, recorded and reported nearly by everyone - more so, the several election observer missions in the country.

Today, most of these groups presented their preliminary findings to the nation and world.

What I found rather interesting was the brave adverse statement issued by the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM).

Its chair, Nevers Mumba perfectly spelled out the discrepancies - characterized by the oftentimes brazen violations of the country's Constitution and electoral laws, as well as SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

SEOM said the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) acted in a restrictive manner in how it dealt with the voters roll - urging the commission to act in favour of the Constitution, and not to legislation which negated the supreme law of the land.

This was after ZEC failed to avail the electronic and auditable copy of the voters roll to contesting parties, especially the main opposition CCC - an act contradicting the country's laws.

SADC proceeded to question ZEC's controversial delimitation report, which was said not to be consistent with the Constitution - thereby, rendering the parliamentary vote unequal.

Even in my own constituency of Redcliff - an urban area in the Midlands province - the ZANU PF parliamentary candidate (July Moyo) won primarily due to the bizarre co-option of rural resettlement lands (which are filled with the party's beneficiaries) into the town.

As a result, even though ZANU PF lost virtually all the urban local authority wards in the town to the CCC - Moyo ended up winning the parliamentary seat!

Let us remember, urban areas have traditionally always been opposition strongholds - whilst, ZANU PF is regarded a rural party.

The so-called 'Patriotic Act' (Criminal Codification Amendment  Act) also came under scrutiny - which is against the spirit of the Zimbabwe Constitution, as it restricted the holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

This law criminalizes supposed acts that 'harm the country's national interests' - which can mean anything, including criticism of the government and its leaders - considering the vagueness of this legislation.

The intimidation of voters - most especially at the hands of the shadowy ZANU PF affiliate FAZ (Forever Associates of Zimbabwe) - similarly came under condemnation.

In rural areas, FAZ has been fingered in countless acts of intimidation - whilst on elections day itself, they set up tables near polling stations where they forced villagers to provide their names and identity card numbers.

This worked to instil terror in rural folk - who had previously been told that the government and ZANU PF possessed mechanisms for detecting for which party each individual had voted - resulting in unspecified consequences.

Then, there was the very embarrassing delay (by up to twelve or more hours) in delivering ballot papers to numerous polling stations,  which constituted 38 percent - primarily in urban centres (known as opposition strongholds).

This, SEOM noted, created doubt on the credibility of the election.

Not to left out was the overtly and unashamedly biased coverage by State-owned media - notably, ZBC, The Herald and Sunday Mail - which provided unfair and lopsided favouritism to the ruling party - in violation of the Constitution.

Such an open castigation of Zimbabwe elections by the regional body is unprecedented - which has always been viewed as biased and pliant towards the ruling establishment - regardless the wanton abuse of voters rights and rampant intimidation, even resulting in violence.

This was the case in 2002 and then 2008 - when then South Africa president Thabo Mbeki (and SADC chair that the time) unashamedly declared there was no crisis in Zimbabwe - in spite of ZANU PF unleashing a murderous reign of terror across the country.

Unsurprisingly, ZANU PF has been rattled by today's SEOM preliminary report.

This evening along, we have witnessed the addressing of hastily-arranged press conferences by ZANU PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa and justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.

As I write this article, Ziyambi is busy frothing at the mouth, in an embarrassingly incoherent rambling - in which he tries to deny what is there for all to see, whilst issuing some preposterous counter-accusations.

ZANU PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa was, nevertheless, the first to humiliate himself.

I understand these characters were taken completely unawares and unprepared by the preliminary findings by SEOM - but the statements they issued left so much to be desired, especially emanating from seemingly learned individuals.

Mutsvangwa sought to single out the head of the SEOM for personal attack.

The ZANU PF spokesperson should not embarrass himself in front of the entire world.

For those of us who closely watched and followed all the preliminary reports presented today by the various election observer missions in the country, SEOM was not the only entity to issue such a damning report.

In addition, the points raised by the SEOM were neither those of one man - as these reports are a product of the respective teams - nor were they isolated.

If there are cracks or disagreements within the SEOM, then let those involved come out in the open and speak for themselves.

They certainly do not need Mutsvangwa and ZANU PF to be their representatives and advocates.

The concerns raised by SEOM were similarly shared by the AU (African Union), the Commonwealth, EU (European Union), and the Carter Centre.

We all listened to the preliminary reports from all these other observer missions.

As such, choosing to single out the SEOM chair Nevers Mumba is utterly shameful and an act of desperation.

We all know that the ZANU PF regime expected the only castigation to come from Western observer missions (in particular, the EU and Carter Centre) - whilst their 'brethren' looked the other side, completely ignoring the glaring flaws, as per norm.

If this had occurred - as in previous equally discredited elections - the ZANU PF regime would have easily gotten away with simply accusing these Western observers as 'racist imperialists who were seeking regime change in Zimbabwe'.

Now that SADC and even the AU have come out unequivocally and unambiguously condemning the 23rd August harmonized elections, ZANU PF has been caught with its pants down and is now in panic mode.

That explains Mutsvangwa's ridiculous attempts at playing on Mumba's Zambian origins, and his government's stance against anti-democratic tendencies by the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa administration.

Whilst, immediately afterwards, Ziyambi took his turn to defend the indefensible.

Nonetheless, such accusations lack merit and do not hold any water, since (as already mentioned) the same disapproval of how Zimbabwe conducted its elections were echoed by other observer missions, as the AU.

Will Mutsvangwa next attack the continental body, or throw shameless personal barbs towards its chair?

I am just glad the world now sees ZANU PF for truly who they are: a brutal repressive party whose intolerance towards being held to account is dangerous.

If they can be so hateful, vitriolic and vindictive towards international election observers - to whom they should actually be, at least, pretending to be a loving and lovable government - can anyone imagine just how they will deal with ordinary defenceless Zimbabweans?

Now the international community, especially our regional friends, have seen for themselves the barbarity and savagery of which we have been complaining for decades - yet, had been repeatedly given the cold shoulder by SADC.

We are being ruled over (not led) by a bunch of gangsters and thugs - whose only language they know is of retribution and anger - exhibited through ruthless oppression.

All I can say is, a very big thank you to SADC and AU for finally shedding off the scales on your eyes and finally choosing to see the suffering and wrath which we have been subjected by the ZANU PF regime for decades.

At least you are now feeling it as well.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: http://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/


Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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