Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

'This election was generally credible' - Sadc reaffirms endorsement

by Staff Reporter
03 Sep 2013 at 02:22hrs | Views
SADC yesterday issued its final and comprehensive report on the harmonised elections, describing them as having been free, peaceful, and generally credible and a reflection of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

"On behalf of the outgoing Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and on behalf of the entire Sadc family, SEOM congratulates ZEC and the people of Zimbabwe for holding a free, peaceful and generally credible harmonised elections of July 2013 in which the will of the people was expressed,'' Head of the Sadc Election Observer Mission to Zimbabwe Mr Bernard Membe, who is also Tanzanian Foreign Affairs minister, said.

He dismissed claims that the failure to provide the electronic voters' roll marred the elections, saying the world over and even in Tanzania; the electronic voters' roll was not an issue, which is why it was not a requirement under the Sadc rules and guidelines governing democratic elections.

Mr Membe said the challenge that the Sadc Troika and Summit would be seized with was to engage the European Union and the US to remove the illegal sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe; and the MDC formations need to participate if they entertain hopes of winning the support of the people.

"Let me tell you passionately from my heart," he said.

"This question of sanctions must be fought by all parties to the election - to tell the world to remove the sanctions because if you do not, it is very difficult for the opposition to win the elections.

"Once the voters are told that you are suffering because of sanctions and you have agents playing in favour of these sanctions in the country, then you are putting yourself in a very awkward position of winning the election.

"Sanctions cannot be a tool of winning election and it should never be a tool of winning of election. You will never win.

"The question of appealing to the world to remove sanctions in Zimbabwe is fundamental, not only to the people of Zimbabwe, but it also gives chance to opposition to come to power in 2018. As long as sanctions are there, this Zanu-PF will prevail for 100 years to come."

After delivering his report, Mr Membe paid a courtesy call on President Mugabe to brief him on the contents of the report.

In the report, Mr Membe said the observer mission noted some anomalies such as late provision of the voters' roll and media polarisation.

But he said the 14-member bloc concluded that the election was a true reflection of the will of the people of Zimbabwe as its positives outweighed the few discrepancies.

"On credibility of the election process, a lot has been said to the negative," said Mr Membe.

"SEOM, however, while agreeing that such issues as the delay of voters' roll and media polarisation, there were so many other elements that when put together elevated the election to a credible status.

"The free election environment, the peaceful environment in which the election took place, unhindered and non-intimidation to candidates and voters, free expression and campaigns, transparency and free voting constitutes the credibility under the prevailing circumstances, particularly when compared to 2008 elections.

"So, therefore, this election was generally credible."

Mr Membe congratulated the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the people of Zimbabwe for holding the free, peaceful and generally credible harmonised elections.

He said the July 31 election was peaceful in the sense that there was no bloodshed and political parties and candidates were able to freely undertake their political activities.

Mr Membe said there was no doubt that the election was free.
"Free in the sense that our observers noted that the candidates were free to campaign, free to associate, free to express their views and the voters were free to cast their votes," he said.

"Because of that, we, therefore, concluded that without hesitation that the harmonised elections were free and expressed the will of the people."

Mr Membe called for immediate end to illegal broadcasting in Zimbabwe by pirate radio stations.
He said emissaries would be sent to Western capitals where some of the pirate radio stations beam from, while Sadc would take care of those stations that operate within its territory.

Mr Membe said the regional group focused on the voters' roll and media polarisation in trying to gauge the fairness of the polls.
He said there were accusations and counter accusations on the operations of the media.

Mr Membe said the public media was accused of being biased towards Zanu-PF, while the revolutionary party complained that pirate radio stations were churning out propaganda in favour of the MDC formations.

In future, Mr Membe recommended that laws that required political parties to pay for airplay should be scrapped to allow all parties equal access to the State media.

Commenting on the voters' roll Mr Membe said: "The voters rolls go to the category of transparency. On transparency, people should have all the public documents that they are suppose to have before the election… there was a demand for electronic voters roll.

"To Sadc Election Observer Mission that is a non issue because even in Tanzania or anywhere that votes have taken place you do not see the population demanding an electronic voters' roll. It is none of their business.

"So, we encountered that demand that the electronic voters' roll was not made available and in our ruling when we were compiling this report we said this is none of the issues."

Mr Membe said what mattered more was the provision of the general voters' roll which he said was divided into two parts – that is the overall voters' roll and the constituency voters' roll.

"With respect to the constituency voters' roll, we are satisfied from the reports on the ground that all polling stations let alone all the 210 constituencies received the voters' roll four days to the election and I myself was a witness because I went to a place called Bindura and I witnessed the availability of all the campaign materials and logistical voting materials including the voters' roll," he said.

"The only exception was that we had no access and people had no access to the voters' roll four days to the election and they were not complaining and on the date of voting they (electoral officials) opened the booklets.

"So, when we say the voters' roll was not made available to the people we have to be careful."
Mr Membe said Sadc understood Zimbabwe's financial challenges and that it was impossible for the sanction-ridden country to mobilise US$89 million to print at least 10 000 copies of the voters' roll.

Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau thanked Sadc for delivering a candid report that touched on all aspects of the electoral process including areas where they needed to improve.

Speaking to journalists after meeting President Mugabe at State House, Mr Membe said Sadc would engage the West to accept the outcome of the elections.

"We are still impressing upon them to accept the reality on the ground," he said. "We were on the ground 600 of us with a spider's web spreading across Zimbabwe – getting every detail… what we stated was true.

"Here was a peaceful environment, attractive environment, free environment in which candidates were allowed to campaign freely."
Mr Membe said President Mugabe and Zanu-PF won the July 31 elections with flying colours and urged opposition parties to accept defeat.

He said Zanu-PF did its homework in the past five years, leading to its resounding victory.

Source - Herald