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Why do we have SADC guidelines on elections if 'there is no perfect election'?

02 Sep 2023 at 22:14hrs | Views
In this world there are always those who do wrong and are prone to finding all manner of excuses to shield themselves from blame.

Have we not come across the man who abuses his partner, and then shifts all the blame onto the victim for 'being difficult and having started the entire thing'?

Or, that girl who cheats in her examinations,  and then claims that 'she was neither the first nor the last to commit such an offense'?

I am pretty sure we have, at least once in our lives, been guilty of hiding our wrongdoing behind a finger, so to speak.

Never willing to take responsibility for our own misdeeds and nefarious acts.

Nonetheless, it is even worse when there are those who come to the defence of, and make excuses for, those who would have done wrong - always ready to protect them from accountability.

Those are the worst kind - as they feed and encourage this malfeasance and misconduct.

This only serves to aggravate and worsen the deviant behaviour - since the wrongdoer feels they can always count on this protection.

These thoughts are what played in my mind, after coming across a report that South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa made a statement to the effect that 'there was no perfect election anywhere in the world'.

This was in reference to the grossly flawed harmonized elections recently held on 23rd and 24th August in Zimbabwe - which were roundly condemned by the regional body SADC, as well as the AU, COMESA, Commonwealth, and EU - as falling far short of both local laws and regional/international guidelines on elections.

Interestingly, South Africa is a leading member of SADC, the AU and Commonwealth - yet, its head of state has chosen to undermine these organizations' own election observer missions.

Further to this, he has chosen to subvert the Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections set by SADC itself.

I am really not sure whether Ramaphosa was merely playing to the gallery - on account of his brazenly irresponsible and reckless comments having been made to the governing ANC party - and not to be taken seriously.

Let us remember that the ANC is known, or rather notorious, for issuing pronouncements and taking stances that are largely superficial and cosmetic - which are seldom adopted by their own government.

This is more pronounced in their supposed staunch support for the Palestinian cause for self-determination - even going as far as openly and unreservedly condemning the Israeli government, and calling for sanctions and a boycott of its products.  

However, in essence, the South African administration has never really taken a firm stance against Israel, neither have they backed the Palestinians in any tangible manner.

I have come to understand that: what the ANC says and does is far divorced from what the South African government says and does.

The governing party are experts at saying all the right things, usually in order to please their 'allies and friends' - nonetheless, this is never translated into government policy.

This is precisely what we are witnessing with the ANC today - with their seemingly blind support for Zimbabwe's ZANU PF regime, and rabid hatred for the opposition CCC.

Of late, the ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula has been hysterically vocal in his attacks on Zimbabwe's main opposition - branding them (especially the leader Nelson Chamisa) as 'Western or imperialist puppets'.

Of course, this is simply a regurgitation of the tired and worn-out ZANU PF narrative - which is primarily a baseless accusation intended to justify the persecution and repression of voices of dissent and disgruntlement - under the pretext of 'protecting the country's sovereignty, independence and national interests'.

Be that as it may, whether these rather unfortunate and misguided comments by Ramaphosa were purely for political grandstanding (in order to placate their ZANU PF comrades) or official government policy - it is neither here nor there.

The fact remains that these are very dangerous things to utter - more so, for a country expected to play a leadership role on both the regional and continental stage.

There is everything wrong with defending and even justifying the flagrant violation of set statutes agreed upon by the region and continent on the conduct of elections.

In addition, Ramaphosa is supporting the ZANU PF regime's spitting upon the Constitution of Zimbabwe and our electoral laws.

What precedence is Ramaphosa setting?

What example is he showing to the rest of the Southern African region and the continent as a whole?

Is he honestly claiming that it is alright for a SADC Member State to wilfully breach the organization's own Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections - under the pretext that 'there is no perfect election anywhere in the world'?

So, why were these guidelines even put in place - fully knowing that 'there was no perfect election anywhere in the world'?

Why not simply remove them, and allow a free-for-all in Member States - where governments and opposition parties can do pretty much what they see fit, either to retain or attain power?

Why not let ruling establishments steal elections, force people (using threats and violence) to vote for them, and refuse to be held accountable?

Why not look aside as fed up opposition players or power greedy military commanders unconstitutionally overthrow sitting governments?

Besides, 'there is no perfect election anywhere in the world'!

What Ramaphosa is doing is actually encouraging lawlessness and anarchy in the region and on the continent.

In his own words, it is perfectly legitimate to violate one's own constitution in the pursuit of power, as no one is perfect!

Ramaphosa needs to take a good look at himself and introspect on whether what he said was expected of someone desiring to be regarded as a regional and continental leader.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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