Zimbabwe can formally complain to SADC – says Mumba; adds government misguided itself by assuming regional body would support them

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By Leopold Munhende | Chief Correspondent

SADC Election Observer Mission (EOM) head Nevers Mumba has called out the Zimbabwean government, saying it misdirected itself in blaming him for the regional body’s relatively uncommon preliminary report and assuming he had written it himself.

Their report heavily criticised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) handling of the August 23 polls, an act Mumba said was ‘uncommon’ as SADC had become known for rubber-stamping questionable elections.

Speaking on Zambia’s TV1 on Sunday, Mumba said his EOM never at any point deviated from its mandate.

He declared that they had every right to question Zimbabwean laws which could have denied its citizens a free and fair election.

Their report’s mention of the Patriot Act and Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill irked ruling Zanu PF and government who felt they should have ignored those.

Exiled former minister Jonathan Moyo and Zanu PF are at the forefront, arguing SADC’s mission had no right to do so, against what Mumba claimed.

“Zambians must relax and feel proud that this job was executed in a manner that it was asked to be executed. There was not a moment that our team stepped out of the mandate because SADC is an old organisation with established outlines of how it is supposed to operate, you cannot change that,” said Mumba.

“There has been a lot of politics and misinformation.

“If we do not have proper elections in our region, problems in one country that is probably strangling the neck of democracy are going to flow out to other countries in the region.”

Mumba said Zimbabwe knew where to go if it felt aggrieved at the manner in which it might assume they handled themselves.

“I did not go to Zimbabwe as a representative of Zambia, that is why we are counselling our colleagues who are all hyped up that I was part of this project and there is now a conflict between the two countries. That was a SADC mission,” said Mumba.

“SADC has its own rules in which Zimbabwe has channels to go to Gaborone and present their complaints about the report. It is a SADC report and not a Nevers Mumba report.

“This is a job which was given to us by SADC to which Zimbabwe is a member and Vice Chair, they know how it rolls.

“There are three pillars to check whether the election is credible, the constitution, the electoral act of Zimbabwe and the SADC principles and guidelines for democratic elections.

“We did not stray, the SADC booklet gives us permission to interrogate any law that impedes a free and fair election, since you are a signatory to this protocol of SADC you have to go back and look at your laws and make sure they align with these democratic norms.

“We do not tell them to make or change laws, we point out those that are obstructive, retrogressive and hinder free flow of democratic processes. As long as a country signs up to this then they must be held accountable to this.

“They misguided themselves, whether it is deliberate or not. Zimbabwe is one of the oldest members of SADC, the Zimbabwean government knows it is the Vice Chair of SADC, they know about the SADC booklet.”