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Sadc observer report a run away 'gun'

28 Aug 2023 at 08:23hrs | Views
THE choice of words by the Sadc observer mission bordered on incitement, propelling a legitimacy crisis with the potential to harm the country. The report was by any standard a threat to human and national security. It had the propensity to reverse the peaceful political environment in the pre, during and post-election phase.

The document lacked basic communication skills and fell short of a neutral observer report. It was akin to a political speech full of emotions and void of facts.

An observer report must be anchored on strategic communication but this observer report is a cause for concern as it was politically charged. In strategic communication, emphasis is on the use of politically neutral and blind terms.

Reckless statements are condemned globally and in most jurisdictions criminalised regardless of who would have uttered them. When Zimbabwe raised a red flag on the observer report, it based its argument on defensive realism. The Government cannot fold its arms and watch akimbo the observer team inciting lawlessness.

The human security and the R2P doctrine give the state an obligation to protect, promote and safeguard the rights of its citizens. Thus, it has the obligation to protect the rights and safety of its citizens regardless of cause. Elections do not replace public safety and national security interests. By concluding that elections did not meet Sadc, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Constitutional guidelines, the team had set a tone for violence because rogue elements are now abusing the report for political expediency.

The observer team will witness how their document shall be cited as primary residue for violence in Zimbabwe. The mission had literally destabilised Zimbabwe through wrong choice of words.

The situation in Zimbabwe is perhaps an eye-opener for Sadc and the European Union on the need to train observer teams on the role of strategic communication while conducting observer duties. In addition, political interference remains unacceptable.

Before the teams are dispatched, they must know every state has intelligence services to fish out agent provocateurs. Observer teams must not be used as cover for harbouring undesirable elements.

It is an observation exercise and not regime change undertaking. Zimbabwe might be a third world country but it has a robust security service and any mischief will be gladly accounted for.

There is a need to separate agenda setting and agenda loading. The agenda was to observe the elections and it is unfortunate the team smuggled the regime change agenda and opposition leader Mr Nelson Chamisa political lullaby in the name of an observer report.

The team must stick to their terms of reference and not incite citizens into civil disobedience.

Zanu-PF is antagonised through and through, raising neutrality questions of the report. Mr Chamisa by his own submission revealed that he infiltrated Zanu-PF to sway its members to sabotage President Mnangagwa through "bhurumango operation".

True to his words, the parliamentary vote and the presidential vote did not tally, there was bhora musango in some constituencies.

It was unacceptable electoral practice by the Citizens Coalition for Change leader.

Both parties used private voluntary organisations to manage their primary elections and the general election - it's a mystery why the FAZ issue is the one being blown out of proportion.

Pertinent to note, some of the issues raised even in the EU report are in violation of the Zimbabwean Constitution. In Zimbabwe, the ultra vires and the principle of abrogation of the constitution makes it impossible for wilful violation of the Constitution for political expediency.

Zimbabwe can't waiver the Constitution to accommodate Saviour Kasukuwere or to amend any electoral law after the declaration of an election. The report by the observer team promotes lawlessness, removes the rule of law and replaces it with rule by law by making feverous demands that are not part of the Constitution.

Elections can't be deemed to be below Sadc guidelines by merely aligning to hearsay from one party. Why is the report antagonising Zanu-PF through and through and promoting the CCC agenda? Has the observer mission not joined the hybrid warfare against Zimbabwe? To what extent is the report impartial and regime change error proof?

The ZEC section 52A(2) which was quoted was complied with, ballot boxes were all dispatched a day before election, but voting was affected by a printing error and not dispatching as was insinuated by the observer team.

Misrepresentation of facts is observed by failure to cite the remedy where the President had used Presidential discretion to extend voting hours to the affected areas by allowing every voter the right to self determination. Did the delays favour Zanu-PF in any way?

Zanu-PF in fact lost in the affected polling stations and as such the delays never benefited Zanu-PF in any way.

There are no facts to suggest that there are voters who are complaining that they did not vote. In the absence of quantifiable and qualifiable data, the argument by the observer team becomes utopia.

Political parties were expected to get fair media coverage. What if CCC preferred social media over State media, how is it a Zanu-PF crime?

It's part of the CCC campaign that State media is captured hence they prefer social media and Studio 7.

Has the Observer report considered that fact? It's political culture in Zimbabwe that, Zanu-PF has confidence in State media over social media and vis-a-vis for CCC. Zanu-PF can not go to court to compel CCC not to shun State media because political communication is a strategy and parties voluntarily choose their medium of choice.

The Observer team should have understood the political media culture in Zimbabwe before jumping into conclusion. That was a rushed conclusion by the observer team which lacked a grounded approach and an insider perspective. Sadc guidelines are there but societies develop their peculiar political cultures which can only be understood through participatory observation over desktop researches.

The issue of voters not appearing on the voters roll or being at the wrong polling station is stubbornness and misguided ignorance on the part of the voter.

ZEC gave voters a reasonable timeframe to go and check their names. Even parties had to help their members to register to vote. Some deliberately opted not to verify and decided to make a surprise appearance at the polling stations in anticipation of a miracle.

Voting is a scientific process and not a metaphysical matter; voter registration was always going to change polling stations as a result of delimitation. The report must fairly address efforts by ZEC to encourage verification of names and polling stations.

Some registered after the official mop up dates hence their names will appear in the next election. There was nothing amiss that those who chose not to verify found themselves loitering. There is no society that is immune to stubborn people who are self-centred. ZEC even provided a code for people to check for free on their mobile phones.

If FAZ intimidated people, where are the dockets?

Those intimidated found it fashionable to report to the observer mission instead of the police or to approach the courts. Those are kindergarten accusations to say the least. What is wrong with FAZ being an observer like any other organisation? Where is the criminal element?

The issue of voter intimidation is a fluid accusation which lacks the essential elements of a crime.

At law, ZEC does not have jurisdiction of what happens beyond 300 metres of a polling station. Is there any law which bars its members from being written that they have voted? The observer mission must not recreate the law but instead understand it.

The EU must not support criminal elements. The State must be applauded for taking a proactive position.

There is a need to prevent loss of life, promote peace and property by accounting for all avenues of instability in the post election phase.

λ Dr Matthew Mare holds PhD in War and Security studies. He can be contacted via

Source - The Chronicle
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