Mnangagwa commits to fair elections as Zim debt resolution bid gets tough; lenders insist on credible vote, respect for rights

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By Alois Vinga

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has committed to conduct the forthcoming 2023 elections fairly amid indications that the country’s creditors have identified the area as a requirement for debt resolution.

Currently saddled in an external debt amounting to US$14,04 million, the country has faced backlash over holding questionable elections in the past.

The last elections held in 2018 ended in a bloodbath after six citizens were shot dead by the military in an attempt to disperse demonstrators who had besieged the National Command Centre in Harare in protest against delays in publishing the elections outcome.

Opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa also dragged the incumbent and the Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC) to the Constitutional Court challenging the election results.

But addressing delegates at Zimbabwe’s Second Structured Dialogue Platform Meeting Thursday, Mnangagwa said as part of efforts in his re-engagement drive, the elections will be credible.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

“Zimbabwe will conduct free and fair elections this year. I will repeat, Zimbabwe will conduct free and fair elections because each time I am in contact with diplomats they ask about free elections. Yes. They are going to be free and fair.

“This will be done in consistency with our constitution and electoral laws. In addition, human rights concerns are being addressed in line with the country’s laws and international standards,” he said.

He also highlighted that he will ensure that laws are applied consistently.

Former president of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, who is playing the facilitation role in the debt dialogue, resolution process also made a clarion call for citizens to uphold peace.

“We would like to encourage Zimbabweans to conduct themselves in an orderly manner during the electoral process .They should stay away from violence and freely choose their leaders and representatives in government and parliament.

“They should not allow themselves to be manipulated by anyone to engage in violence or any illegal acts that may undermine the electoral process that is peaceful, free, fair and transparent,” he said.

He added that the country must remain vigilant and participate in a process that is peaceful, free and transparent.

AfDB president, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who is leading the debt resolution process for Zimbabwe, expressed confidence that the Sector Working Groups that have been established for structured dialogues on these issues will build much needed trust, momentum, and implementation.

“The governance working group would allow us to tackle and make measurable progress on critical issues of freedom of speech, human rights protection, and implementation of laws in line with the constitution, as well as the implementation of the Motlanthe commission of inquiry and compensation of victims.

“And we must show progress on the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA). All of which should make for peaceful, free, and fair elections. They will also remove headwinds on our path to arrears clearance and debt resolution,” he said.