By Staff Reporter
REGIONAL body SADC’s final report on Zimbabwe’s August elections has maintained the polls fell short of accepted regional and international standards, a position similar to its preliminary position.
The damning report highlighted issues to do with Zimbabwe’s legal framework, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) independence, postal voting by state security agencies, media and the diaspora vote.
Shadowy organisation Forever Associates Zimbabwe’s (FAZ) involvement, the judiciary and the police’s inconsistent application of laws were emphasised as having affected the polls.
Matters in the final report signed by SADC Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema were all highlighted days after Zimbabweans cast ballots by his countryman and head of SADC’s Election Observer Mission (EOM) Nevers Mumba.
SADC’s position, however, does not mean Zimbabwe will head for fresh elections as reports are mainly for recommendation purposes.
“The Mission was informed that the delimitation exercise that was conducted in 2022 by the ZEC was marred with controversy. In one way or another, concerned stakeholders claimed that the report that ZEC submitted failed to observe the constitutional requirements for such an exercise and that there were also divisions amongst the ZECs regarding the report’s veracity.
“The Mission noted that the average number of voters per constituency is inconsistent with the provision of section 161(6) of the new Constitution adopted in 2013.
“In June, the government, through Statutory Instrument 144 of 2022, increased the presidential nomination fee from US$1,000 to US$20,000. Nomination fees for a constituency election increased from US$50 to US$1,000. These amounts were also cited as unduly restrictive to less well-off community members, such as women who lack the means. In this context, we also take note of the significance of paragraph 4.1.7 of the SADC Principles and Guidelines, which requires Member States to guarantee an environment of open contest with no undue exclusion and restrictions on anyone eligible and qualified to stand as a candidate in any election.
“The SEOM noted that at least two female candidates contesting for the presidency encountered difficulties when they attempted to pay their nomination fees when the Nomination Court sat in July 2023.”
The initial report read by Mumba had triggered Zanu PF into attack mode, with party spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa raging at the Zambian national and accusing him of having been bought by the “West.”
According to reports, Zanu PF had been hoping for a favourable final report.
It would have been the only one to exonerate ZEC, FAZ, and possibly Zanu PF after the European Union (EU), African Union (AU), Carter Center, the Commonwealth and other local Observer Missions all said the election was not a worthy representation of Zimbabweans’ wishes.
Mnangagwa’s legitimacy is being challenged for the second time in five years, mainly by Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) President Nelson Chamisa, who got 44% of the vote according to ZEC.
Of SADC’s 16 Heads of State only Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and DRC’s Felix Tshisekedi attended Mnangagwa’s inauguration, an issue the opposition says indicates that he is not legitimate in international spaces.