Regional body SADC has fallen short of calling Zimbabwe’s elections a sham after detailing massive irregularities that include poor administration by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and intimidation of citizens by Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) backed Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ).
Presenting its Preliminary Report in Harare on Friday, SADC through Mission Chairperson Dr. Nevers Mumba noted disregard for basic rights, including Freedoms of Assembly, especially for opposing political party supporters and claims of judicial capture.
Mumba noted disregard for basic rights that include Freedoms of Assembly, especially for opposing political party supporters and claims of judicial capture.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) which shut down over a hundred Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) rallies and an MDC demonstration using the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA) was also accused of being selective in its application of justice.
Mumba, a victim of publicly owned media attacks, highlighted inconsistencies that were brought by the passing of the Patriotic Act which he said hindered freedom of expression as enshrined in the Zimbabwean constitution and SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
According to the SADC report, coverage of the elections by state-run broadcasters and publications was skewed in favour of the ruling Zanu PF, despite noting a few improvements from the last general poll in 2018.
“There were stakeholder concerns about the right to freedom of assembly for election campaign purposes, whereupon the CCC reported that their rallies were being subjected to unreasonable cancellation by the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” said Mumba.
“We also noted reports that there was inconsistent application of the notice period for election campaign gatherings.”
Mumba said the rural vote could have been compromised by FAZ activities in the country’s outlying areas where villagers were intimidated and had their names and addresses recorded for a yet-to-be-ascertained reason.
FAZ operatives were stationed at most polling stations in rural areas and some in the urban conducting what they term a ‘Post Election Survey.’
Added Mumba: “The Mission was informed that the rural vote may be compromised by alleged intimidation attributed to a group called FAZ, which is said to be a quasi-security intelligence organisation.
“The group was said to have been deployed to wards and around 36,000 villages. The allegations were that people were intimidated to vote in a particular manner and were warned that it would be easy to determine who voted against certain parties.
“The Mission noted that some aspects of the Harmonised Elections, fell short of the requirements of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Electoral Act, and the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2021).”
Delays in the delivery of voting material and late-night voting where in some cases voters had to use candlelight also added to a hugely chaotic day that exposed ZEC’s poor management despite promises by commission Chairperson Priscilla Chigumba that everything was good to go.
Confirmed reports indicate CCC and Zanu PF are currently in a tug-of-war over control of Parliament.
The Presidential vote is yet to be announced by ZEC.