Former Tanzanian President Dr. Kikwete and SADC PoE Sweep In to Put an End to ZEC’s Election Chaos
Concerning the Zimbabwean election chaos, Southern African Development Community (SADC) being led by former Tanzanian president Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, has dispatched a delegation from the Panel of Elders (PoE) to Zimbabwe to mediate the ongoing dispute surrounding the conduct of the elections by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Former Tanzanian president will be accompanied by Hon Charles Tibone and Ambassador Mpeo Mahase Moiloa. Supporting the PoE team are Prof Kula I. Theletsane, Mr Terry Rose, Mr Elijah Munyuki and Mrs Kgomotso Monare from SEOM. Their mission, scheduled from August 28th to September 1st, 2023, aims to address the contentious issues surrounding the election process.
Concerns Raised by Election Observers
Various election observers, including the Southern African Development Community Election Observer Mission (SEOM), have expressed deep concerns about the credibility of the recently conducted elections. SEOM highlighted that the polls fell short of regional and international standards for free, fair, and credible elections.
EU Election Observation Mission’s Findings
The EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) also criticized Zimbabwe’s electoral process for failing to meet international and regional standards. The EU EOM cited regressive legal changes, incidents of violence and intimidation, and a lack of transparency as major flaws in the election.
Chief Observer Castaldo, in the group’s preliminary statement, stated, “The election process created a climate of fear. The arrest of members of accredited citizen observer groups ZESN and ERC, who exercised their constitutional rights, is of great concern.”
Insufficient Public Trust and Fairness
The EU EOM underlined that although the election day itself was relatively calm, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) failed to instill public trust in the voting and results management process. Delays in many polling stations were caused by ZEC’s failure to provide critical electoral materials, such as paper ballots.
Chief Observer Castaldo also highlighted the significant role of the judiciary in the electoral process, given the numerous pre-election court challenges that remain unresolved.
Challenges to Fair Campaigning
The EU EOM expressed concerns about the fairness of the campaign, particularly regarding the freedom of assembly. They noted that the state-controlled media displayed favoritism towards the ruling party and President Mnangagwa’s government.
Obstacles Faced by EU EOM
Chief Observer Castaldo lamented the difficulties encountered by the EU EOM in accessing official bodies, despite having an agreement with the Zimbabwean government. He further condemned the disinformation and defamation campaign launched against the EU EOM and other international observers.