By Staff Reporter
Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s final report on Zimbabwe’s August elections reiterates that the elections did not meet recognized regional and international standards, consistent with its initial assessment.
The critical report pointed out concerns related to Zimbabwe’s legal system, the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), postal voting by state security agencies, media issues, and voting by Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
It also highlighted the involvement of the mysterious organization Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) and noted that the judiciary and police applied laws inconsistently, affecting the election process.
All of these issues raised were brought to attention several days after Zimbabweans had voted, by the head of SADC’s Election Observer Mission (EOM), Nevers Mumba.
Nonetheless, SADC’s stance doesn’t imply that Zimbabwe will necessarily hold new elections, as these reports primarily serve as recommendations.
“The Mission was informed that the delimitation exercise that was conducted 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.
“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 preliminary report presented by Mumba provoked Zanu PF into a defensive stance, with party spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa vehemently criticizing the Zambian national and accusing him of being influenced by Western interests.
It was reported that Zanu PF had been hoping for a favorable final report, which could have been the only one to absolve the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ), and potentially Zanu PF.
This came after the European Union (EU), African Union (AU), Carter Center, the Commonwealth, and other local Observer Missions had all concluded that the election did not adequately represent the wishes of Zimbabweans.