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Sadc must provide leadership, not platitudes

31 Aug 2023 at 06:46hrs | Views
AFTER brokering a peace deal that gave birth to a Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe following the disputed 2008 presidential election, and again intervening albeit reluctantly in disputed polls in 2013 and 2018, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) again finds itself at the centre of yet another political logjam in its troubled member State.

The dispute arising from last week's elections in Zimbabwe does not augur well for a fragile region which is struggling to accommodate more than two million Zimbabwean immigrants running away from their country's rundown economy and toxic political environment.

Now that the Sadc observer mission led by Zambian opposition leader Nevers Mumba has condemned the Zimbabwe election in its preliminary report, we expect the regional leaders to make the necessary interventions to resolve the Harare question once-and-for-all.

 According to the Sadc mission preliminary report, "aspects of the harmonised elections fell short of the requirements of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Electoral Act and the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2022)."

We have no doubt that Sadc has the capacity to provide true leadership given the precedent it set in 2008 when Zimbabwe's late former leader Robert Mugabe brazenly and violently stole the run-off election.  His peers removed their camaraderie jackets and nudged him into a coalition government with his political nemesis — bringing instant stability to the country and region.

The bloc must not succumb to Zanu-PF's outlandish stunts, it should firmly steer Zimbabwe towards the path of reconciliation for the sake of the people of this country and the entire region.  It's no use for the leaders to look aside for fear of ruffling the feathers of neighbouring comrades.

While Zanu-PF argues that the SEOM strayed from its brief, it should be noted that Mumba's team was guided by Sadc's Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) processes of observing elections.

The SEAC carried out a pre-election assessment in Zimbabwe in April.

Under SEAC processes, the observer mission has to assess the legal framework, rule of law and the electoral environment in the lead up to the polls among others as well as engage with various stakeholders in the member State holding an election.

 We, therefore, find it mischievous for Zanu-PF to try to blackmail SEOM, especially its head, for producing a damning report on the August 23 elections.

What the SEOM mission said was in the public domain that the country was headed for disputed elections given the uneven playing field, intimidation of supporters among other irregularities.

We trust that SEOM will not be bullied into withdrawing its report after rightly putting Zanu-PF in the limelight. If, for some reason Sadc leaders choose to ignore the Zimbabwe crisis, they should be prepared to live with it for the next five years.

Source - Newsday
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