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Poll observers embarrassed by what they saw in Zimbabwe

17 Sep 2023 at 07:59hrs | Views
Veteran academic and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza says election observers, including those from Africa, were embarrassed by what they witnessed during Zimbabwe's disputed elections.

Mandaza (IM), who is also the Sapes Trust convenor and a publisher, told Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN) on the platform In Conversation with Trevor, that the August 23 and 24 polls were the worst he has seen since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

TN: Ibbo, I am delighted that I finally pinned you down. Welcome.

IM: Always good to see you.

TN: Ibbo, if things had gone according to plan you would be in South Africa for the OR Tambo lecture; which our good friend Fikile Mbalula decided that it should not go ahead.

There is a thing in his letter where he says the ANC is engaged in delicate conversations concerning the Zimbabwean situation.

In the first instance what was your response when you heard the lecture had been postponed?

And secondly are you aware of this delicate conversation that is supposed to be taking place?

IM: Well, in the first place I did not know [as] I was out in Chihota to bury a relative.

Out of the network [range]. When I got back I saw this communication, a missed call from my brother and comrade David Masondo.

It was billed two weeks ago that I would speak today, this evening actually and he told me, look there was an anonymous message poster declaring that the lecture was postponed...

TN: Postponed.

IM: They did not know where it came from.

 So they issued a statement saying no, the lecture is still on, and then came Mbalula's directive sent from Harare that the lecture must be off.

That was the first. I [then] said to David I do not understand the import of that letter, particularly since you are a functionary of the ANC.

If I were you I would not defy them. Let us go with it, let us postpone it...

TN: Yeah.

IM: ...Indefinitely, but no confrontation. He said fine.

Then the rest is history as you know.

The second question is, yes I do suspect that there has been some discussions between the ANC and Zanu-PF over the elections. But I doubt that Trevor, no I mean...

TN: David Masondo? No Fikile Mbalula.

IM: [Yes] would be the one in charge of it, because as it turned out when (South African President) Cyril [Ramaphosa] left on Monday evening...

TN: After the inauguration?

IM: After the inauguration he left straight away, and Mbalula and his deputy were left behind.

It appears discussing mainly Zanu-PF and ANC matters.

I doubt that Fikile would be of the capacity to deal with what you call delicate issues.

But I have no doubt that it had been conveyed, either over the weekend, or subsequently that the region was not happy about the elections.

I took two hints from what Cyril said when he was interviewed on SABC.

He was asked why are you congratulating [President] Mnangagwa? He said it's protocol.

When the electoral commission announces somebody as a winner, as regional partners, neighbourhood, we have to congratulate.

But, that does not pre-empt the necessity of looking at the report, he said that.

And secondly, I would say that he came for the inauguration on the same note, but also in addition I would say that there would have been conversations with the other heads of states over the weekend.

Many of whom would have said look Cyril, you are going to the inauguration, represent us, but also convey their message to Harare that we are not happy with what has happened.

So I think that the nature of the Sadc Observer Mission (Seom) report, not only (Seom) report, although everyone is emphasising that, but all the other reports amidst the observers themselves, both the heads of missions and individuals, all were acutely embarrassed of what they saw.

All, (former Nigerian President Goodluck) Jonathan, (Seom head) Mbumba, the Namibian delegation, notwithstanding the grandstanding when they got back home criticising the report. They all said this is the worst election they have ever seen.

So there is consensus about the election, that this is a...I mean you and I were here. I mean I have never seen such...

TN: It is the worst we have ever witnessed Ibbo.

IM: It was incredible.

TN: What a disaster. I will get to the [election] observers. Your sentiments: I think in the night or during the evening, you said elections brazenly stolen and the voters rendered mere useless statistics.

Deplorable. Depressing.

That is what you said. And for me the deplorable and depressing continues.

As you are driving around Harare, the city, you can sense it. It is as if something came and punched the whole nation. There is no excitement...

IM: Funeral.

TN: It is worse than a funeral.  At a funeral people cry.

IM: Yes.

TN: Here nobody's crying, but you can see that they are hurting.

IM: It was a very pertinent tweet that you posted, I retweeted it. It really explains the mood following elections. Not this election alone, but all previous elections.

TN: But this one is worse.

IM: Yeah it is terrible, and for me the most depressing is the extent to which people's votes are stolen.

People queue for hours to be heard, and then you glibly steal their vote. For me that is the most cynical part of the electoral process.

I wish we would have an alternative to elections, but every time elections come...

I could not go to my home area during the election because my people told me ‘you come here you put us in trouble'.

When you leave we will be in trouble.

So I was meeting them for the first time in six months at a funeral.

And they told me, I mean it was horror as usual, every election is horror you know.

People are regimented, they are forced on to the buses. It is incredible.

For me, what depresses me most is that our people here are so defensive.

I saw the (George) Charamba's and them issuing some crazy statements you know, attacking Mumba, but hell we were all here, we saw it for ourselves.

TN: We saw it for ourselves.

IM: So what is it?

TN: We saw it for ourselves...

IM: We are the only country in the region that does that.

Every election is a war zone, every election is rigged.

I was talking to somebody, a former head of state, I won't mention him.

He was saying to me a few months ago, what do you guys look for in elections in Zimbabwe? Every election is rigged in Zimbabwe.

And he has been here as observer, as head of state. So the reputation of Zimbabwe and rigging of elections is now legend.

Source - The Standard
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