Push for fair poll, Sadc urged

A United States-based non-governmental organisation has called upon Sadc countries to revise their preliminary statements and acknowledge flaws in Zimbabwe’s election process.

Report by Pamela Mhlanga

In a Press statement yesterday, Freedom House Africa said Sadc needed to immediately halt any actions or statements that would legitimise the Zanu PF government until a genuinely independent investigation was conducted into electoral irregularities. The organisation said it was disappointed with the statements from Sadc congratulating Zimbabwe on holding “free and peaceful” elections and called on the regional body and the international community to condemn, as deeply flawed Zimbabwe’s July 31 elections.

“These elections were plagued with voters’ roll manipulation and widespread intimidation from the ruling Zanu PF and were, therefore, neither free nor fair,” the statement reads.

“Local NGOs (non-governmental organisations) noted systematic disenfranchisement during the election process, with significantly more voters being turned away in urban strongholds of the opposition MDC than in rural Zanu PF strongholds.”

Freedom House Africa programmes director Vukasin Petrovic said the fact that MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the same number of votes this election as he did in 2008, while President Robert Mugabe received one million more than he did in 2008, raised serious suspicions.

“However, reports of vote-rigging should not come as a surprise because election results were decided long before election day,” he said.

“Sadc and its members should demand truly free, fair and credible elections from their members and lack of violence cannot become the new standard for elections in the region.”

This development comes as Sadc leaders such as Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, who is also the regional body’s chairman, sent Mugabe a letter congratulating him over his re-election last week, while South Africa President Jacob Zuma also sent a congratulatory message, applauding Zimbabwe for holding a “successful vote”.

Sadc and the African Union observer missions have already lauded the vote as free and credible, although they did not describe it as fair. Ironically, in a poll last year, Freedom House projected a victory for Mugabe.

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