Zimbabwe elections: Regional leaders express optimism for unbiased polls, election observers cautioned to adhere to their roles

Zimbabwe Elections: Regional Leaders Express Optimism For Unbiased Polls, Election Observers Cautioned To Adhere To Their Roles

ZANU-PF supporters enthusiastically wave their party flag during a rally in Harare on August 9, 2023.

  • Heads of state from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) expressed their optimism for fair and impartial elections in Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Madagascar, and Eswatini this year.
  • Zanu PF cautioned election observers to adhere strictly to their assigned roles and responsibilities.
  • The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) alleged that certain police officers were compelled to vote in the presence of their superiors.

During the SADC Summit held in Luanda, Angola, the attending heads of state voiced their hope for transparent and unbiased elections in Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Madagascar, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These elections are scheduled to occur in the final quarter of the year.

Zimbabwe will conduct its elections on August 23, followed by Eswatini’s Tinkhundla electoral system on September 29, Madagascar on November 9, and the DRC on December 20.

Among the summit attendees were Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Eswatini’s King Mswati III, and DRC President Felix Tshisekedi. However, President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar did not attend.

SADC stated in a communiqué that it “noted the preparedness of the member states holding elections during the year.”

Concurrently, the Zimbabwean government issued a preemptive warning to election observers.

During a press briefing, Christopher Mutsvangwa, spokesperson for Zanu PF, advised foreign observers against interfering with the electoral process.

We are open to learning how we can enhance our electoral processes based on observers’ assessments, but we will not allow them to undermine us because we recognize our sovereignty as an organized nation.

“We appreciate the European Union’s stance of maintaining impartiality; they are here as observers, not monitors,” he continued.

The main opposition party, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), led by Nelson Chamisa, lodged complaints regarding the uneven playing field leading up to the polls.

The CCC raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the ballot paper printing and the inaccessibility of the voters’ roll.

The party also alleged that certain members of the police were forced to vote in the presence of their superiors, which would be a violation of voting norms.

During a press conference, Fadzayi Mahere, the party spokesperson, stated, “It is common knowledge that under our electoral law, your vote is confidential. You cannot have your superior monitoring your choice, whether you vote for CCC or not.

Our incident tracker has been flooded with reports from prison officers, police officers, and other security forces, stating that they are being compelled to vote under the supervision of their superiors. Such a forced vote is unconstitutional.

Mutsvangwa urged the opposition to stop complaining and attempting to undermine the electoral body.

“It appears that the opposition is recklessly attacking Zimbabwe’s electoral process,” he remarked, emphasizing that it was “an unfettered assault on state institutions and constitutionalism.”

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