SADC Observer Mission praises peaceful election process in Zimbabwe

Phillipa Jaja

The Southern African Development Community Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) has commended the people of Zimbabwe for their peaceful engagement throughout the election period, while also highlighting various irregularities that marred the process.

The report identified specific elements of the electoral process that fell short of expected standards, shining a spotlight on the need to adhere to established legal procedures for dispute resolution.

Headed by Nevers Mumba, the SEOM consisted of 68 observers, with 50 stationed across Zimbabwe’s ten provinces and the remainder at SEOM’s headquarters.

Key issues raised in the preliminary report included concerns about the delimitation exercise, the voters’ roll, challenges to freedom of assembly, nomination fees, women’s participation, the independence of the judiciary, alleged voter intimidation, and the coverage of the election by state-owned media.

Despite these inadequacies, SEOM praised the prevailing political environment.

“The environment at the polling stations was relatively calm and peaceful. Several voters expressed concerns due to a lack of, or late arrival of, ballot papers and poor administration at some polling stations.

However, voters remained patient to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The professional and attentive police presence enhanced the overall peaceful and secure environment in all observed polling stations,” Nevers Mumba said.

The mission also noted widespread electoral malfunctions.

Mumba said, “Before the election day, ZEC had assured our mission and other stakeholders that all necessary voting materials, including ballots, were available and ready for use. The subsequent information from ZEC stating that they did not have adequate ballot papers unfortunately creates doubts about the credibility of this process.”

Mumba said , “An organization referred to as Forever Associate Zimbabwe was accused of conducting a countrywide exercise of electoral intimidation. Our observers confirmed the existence of this group.”

The group was observed setting up desks near polling stations as a form of intimidation.

“These and other unidentified individuals, who were not polling officers, were observed taking down voters’ names before they cast their votes, ” Mumba said.

SADC also criticized Zimbabwe’s “Patriot Act,” stating that it restricts free expression.”

 

Leave a Reply