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Mnangagwa will always know Sadc troika knows Zanu-PF cheated

29 Aug 2023 at 08:06hrs | Views
SO, the much-anticipated results of the recently-held Zimbabwe presidential elections are officially out.

Zanu-PF's Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa was announced winner over his main rival, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)'s Nelson Chamisa - with 52,7% and 44%, respectively.

Not a very convincing win for someone who went about bragging about "developing and uplifting the livelihoods of Zimbabweans" when, in actual fact, the ordinary citizenry is worse off and poorer today than it was five years ago.

Nevertheless, something else also came out.

These were the preliminary reports by the various regional, continental and international election observer missions stationed in Zimbabwe for the plebiscite.

All of them practically (openly or in the tone of their statements) described the elections as woefully falling short of our own local laws (the Constitution and Electoral Act), as well as various regional, continental and international guidelines governing democratic elections.

Two days ago, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), African Union-Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (AU-Comesa), the Commonwealth, as well as European Union and Carter Center all issued damning findings on the conduct of elections by Zimbabwe.

What was more interesting about these scathing preliminary findings was that even organisations such as Sadc, AU and Comesa, which had traditionally opted to side with the Zanu-PF government in all its savage attacks on democracy in the past, thereby turning a blind eye to all manner of brutal oppression and brazen subversion of the people's will, this time round showed bravery and stood with the subjugated.

This was a most refreshing transformation. They came out with several unflattering observations of the August 23 and 24 harmonised elections.

To begin with, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (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, particularly section 21(6) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13].

In so doing, it became nearly impossible to verify the authenticity of those in the voters roll, more so with accusations of names of voters either missing from the roll or moved from one constituency to another without their consent, or an individual registered multiple times, or unbelievably high numbers of people registered at a single residential address.

These observer missions proceeded to question Zec's controversial delimitation report, which was said not to be consistent with the Constitution, thereby rendering the parliamentary vote unequal.

In some urban constituencies known as CCC strongholds, rural areas were curiously incorporated, which are predominantly Zanu-PF support bases, in a clear attempt at diluting and even neutralising the opposition.

This was also the case in my own small town of Redcliff, where the opposition had been dominating since 2000.

Nonetheless, in the recent elections, the parliamentary seat reverted to Zanu-PF, while urban local council wards remained in CCC hands mainly due to this skewed delimitation, which bordered on blatant gerrymandering.

The so-called "Patriot Act" (Criminal Law [Codification and Reform] Amendment Act) also came under scrutiny for being against the spirit of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, as it restricted the holding of free and fair elections in the country.

This law criminalises 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 piece of legislation.

The law was only enacted a few months ago. Many Zimbabweans still haven't grasped what the law actually means, and could actually be ignorant of its provisions that call for the imprisonment for up to 10 years for those found to have "harmed the country's national interests".

The intimidation of voters, especially by the shadowy Zanu-PF affiliate Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ), was also condemned.

In rural areas, FAZ has been fingered in countless acts of intimidation, while on election days, its members set up tables near polling stations where they forced villagers to provide their names and identity card numbers to instil terror in rural folks.

Yet, the secrecy of one's vote is the backbone of any free, fair and credible election.

Then, there was the very embarrassing delay (by up to 12 or more hours) in delivering ballot papers to 38% of polling stations primarily in urban centres.

This, the election observers noted, created doubts on the credibility of the election, as well as significantly reduced the turnout, after voting was extended to August 24.

Not to be left out was the overtly and unashamedly biased coverage by State-owned media, which was unfair and lopsided in favour of the ruling party, in violation of sections 61 and 155 of the Constitution, which demand equal, balanced and impartial reportage.

In other words, the recent plebiscite in Zimbabwe was a huge sham and scandal, which did not meet the basic tenets of free, fair and credible elections.

This is a fact made abundantly, unreservedly and unequivocally clear by the Sadc Election Observer Mission (SEOM) through its chair Nevers Mumba.

Despite Zanu-PF's absurd and embarrassing protests, the Sadc secretariat boldly defended its team.

It made it abundantly clear that the contents of the SEOM preliminary report were not a product of only one man, but the entire team, comprising nationals from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

Furthermore, the findings had been adopted after consultations with member States of the Sadc Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, supported by advice from the Sadc Election Advisory Council.

As much as Mnangagwa was eventually announced the presidential election winner, our brothers and sisters in the region are fully aware, and are in agreement, that Zanu-PF bulldozed its way into retaining the highest office in the land.

Mnangagwa can hold on to power, but now lacks legitimacy in the eyes of his own brethren.

"We was robbed," as some would have said.

Source - newsday
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