SA, Botswana, Namibia give Zim polls thumbs up

Wallace Ruzvidzo-Herald Reporter

SOUTH Africa, Botswana and Namibia have all said Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections were free, fair and credible, dismissing as misguided a preliminary report that was produced by the SADC Electoral Observer Mission led by disgraced former Zambian Vice President Dr Nevers Mumba.

The three neighbouring countries have their own individual observer missions led by officials from their respective government departments, who are in the country to observe the pre- and post-election periods.

Yesterday, Pretoria, Gaborone and Windhoek all gave their thumbs up to the country’s electoral processes, saying they had actually drawn lessons from Harare on how to conduct peaceful and seamless polls.

This is particularly critical for South Africa and Namibia who will hold their respective general elections next year.

Officials from the three sister Republics yesterday paid individual courtesy calls on President Mnangagwa at State House in Harare where they apprised him on how their missions had gone since their arrival.

An official from South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Mr Khazamuza Chabane, said since arriving in the country before polling day, they had observed peace and harmony even after election day.

Mr Chabane said South Africa had not only come to observe but also to draw lessons on conducting peaceful and transparent polls.

“Well our mission was to come and observe, we came just before the elections started and we found that it was peaceful and then we went around in various areas and it was peaceful before and even during the elections and as we speak now it remains peaceful.

“In our view, it went peacefully and there is tranquillity in the environment. We have just had a very good interaction with the President and we apprised him of what we have observed and we are on the same page. Some of the lessons that came out of these elections are going to help us, as you know, we are going to have elections in South Africa in the coming year,” he said.

Mr Chabane commended Zimbabwe for remaining resolute even amidst the adversity wrought by unilateral economic sanctions imposed by the United States and her allies.

“We took note that the elections took place in an environment that is economically very difficult because the sanctions have been burdening the people of Zimbabwe unjustly so and we believe that the resilience that the people have demonstrated is very much commendable,” he said.

Speaking after a closed-door meeting with President Mnangagwa, Botswana’s former chief executive officer of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mr Gabriel Seeletso, said Zimbabwe had shown political maturity in dealing with hiccups faced on polling day.

President Mnangagwa meets the head of the Botswana election observer team, Mr Seeletso Gabriel, at State House yesterday.

Mr Seeletso said the ensuing peace during the electoral period only spoke volumes of how the polls had been conducted.

“It went fairly well because the people expressed their will, I think its Zimbabweans who can judge how the elections went rather than myself but I think the peace and calm that prevailed before the elections and now speaks volumes of how the elections went.

“Elections are a big undertaking and there are a process so there are bound to be glitches and all you need to do is to correct them on time and I believe that is what the Zimbabweans did with the ballot papers and the President-elect took a decision to extend the election by another day. That in itself is commendable because it affected the electorate and it also averted the holding of by-elections which were going to draw significantly from the Government coffers.”

Speaking after a closed-door meeting with the President, former Namibia Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Russia, Mr Ndali Che Kamati, declared the election “very peaceful and credible”.

President Mnangagwa meets the head of the Namibian election observer team Mr Ndali Che Kamati at State House yesterday. Pictures: Justin Mutenda and Innocent Makawa.

He said the West’s efforts in trying to soil Zimbabwe’s image and also unseat former liberation movements across the region would all come to naught.

“We were happy to hear a call for peace that all Zimbabwean people should conduct themselves in a peaceful way in the period leading to the elections, during the voting and post-election. That is what we observed at polling stations in all 10 provinces and all members of my team were reporting peace only.

“There were many people in long queues from different political parties but there was no friction whatsoever. At some polling stations there were some delays in delivering ballot papers for local authorities but people were still patient and this was very encouraging and I think all observers despite some different opinions appreciated the way Zimbabweans conducted themselves, so it is safe for our delegation to declare that the election was very peaceful and credible.

“We are former liberation movements and some other countries in the West want to unseat liberation movements that is why you hear these pronouncements. There is an agenda and this is an agenda for all our countries so we keep on inviting them because we are not hiding anything, we are transparent, free and we want fair elections. But we do not appreciate such kind of pronouncements, it’s an attack on our liberation movements and our Governments,” said Mr Kamati as he dismissed the SADC Preliminary Report.

The Herald