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Govt engages SADC Ambassadors accredited to the country

Story by Oleen Ndori

GOVERNMENT says it recognises and appreciates the role of observer missions in the just ended General Elections, imploring the missions to operate within the confines of their mandate.

Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Professor Amon Murwira, who met with SADC Ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe in Harare this Sunday, said government appreciates the role of the regional body in ensuring democratic processes.

He, however, highlighted that government is equally concerned with some parts of the preliminary report by the SADC Election Observer Mission which were partially partisan.

“On Friday, August 25, 2023 many observer missions to the general elections presented their preliminary findings. The Government of Zimbabwe welcomes progressive preliminary comments and recommendations contained in some of these reports which were made in the spirit of strengthening our institutions and enhancing our democracy in future elections. SADC’s mission is to foster peace and security as the prerequisite for regional integration and development to achieve a common future.

“However, we are disturbed by some aspects of the SEOM Report which deviate from the spirit, intent and mandate of the SADC Observer Mission as outlined in the SADC Guidelines which Zimbabwe has fully domesticated. It is our understanding that SADC respects the sovereignty of Member States and that SEOM as its subsidiary operates within the confines of the constitutions and laws of Member States, which are passed by sovereign parliaments.

“We don’t believe it is in the remit of SEOM to question or interfere in Member States Constitutions, laws, and court decisions passed by their sovereign democratic institutions. We believe SEOM, as our institution, had all avenues open to interrogate, verify and validate information before it was published, in line with SADC cherished values and principles of transparency, impartiality and non-partisanship. Unfortunately, in some areas cited in the report, this did not happen resulting in the views of a partisan nature being presented in the preliminary report as facts,” he said.

Professor Murwira added that some issues raised by the Head of SEOM and former Vice President of Zambia Dr Nevers Mumba were addressed at the 43rd SADC summit of Heads of State and Government.

“Your Excellencies, during the 43rd SADC Summit held in Luanda, Angola, Zimbabwe briefed the Heads of State and Government on its State of Preparedness to hold the General Elections. Summit took note and praised Zimbabwe on the fact that all outstanding issues that had been raised by SEAC in April 2023 had been fully addressed in accordance with Zimbabwe’s Constitution and Electoral Laws. These included the Delimitation of Constituencies, availability of electronic voters roll and voting status. The Summit acknowledged this update and wished Zimbabwe a peaceful election. We therefore find it puzzling that the SEOM considered it appropriate to reopen debate on issues of a purely domestic nature which had been long concluded by the appropriate authorities in Zimbabwe and which Summit in Luanda had noted and adopted,” he added.

He also explained issues raised around the delimitation report and the Kasukuwere court case,“Statements such as the “delimitation was a flawed and unconstitutionally executed process, that Kasukuwere’s disqualification was unconstitutional”, are most unhelpful. The Kasukuwere case was concluded by a Constitutional Court judgement. This also includes unhelpful comments that the so called “Patriotic Bill” was unconstitutional as it attacks the freedom of speech. Such statements, intentionally or unintentionally, cast aspersions on the integrity of Zimbabwe’s public institutions and create doubt in the populace.

“Zimbabwe fully respects SADC, its leadership, principles and values. After all Zimbabwe is a key beneficiary of SADC’s assistance and solidarity and deeply appreciates this. SADC, our great institution has always thrived on consultations and mutual respect of its Member States’ sovereignty. Zimbabwe has full confidence that the errors cited in the SEOM report will be corrected with the view of ensuring the intended beneficial contribution to strengthening the electoral processes of Member States, including Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe went to the polls on August 23 and incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa emerged victorious after garnering 52.6% of votes cast.

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