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Observation Mission report
SADC Election Observation Mission
August 02, 2013
Observation Mission to the Republic of Zimbabwe Preliminary statement
by Hon. Bernard Kamillius Membe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and
International Co-operation of the United Republic of Tanzania and
Head of the SADC Election Observation Mission to the harmonised
elections of the Republic of Zimbabwe held on 31 July 2013.
Electoral Commission (ZEC)
Esteemed Leaders of the Political Parties;
The Executive Secretary of SADC
The SADC Facilitation Team;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Religious and Traditional Leaders;
Members of Civil Society;
Esteemed Members of other Election Observation Missions;
Esteemed Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honour
and pleasure for me to welcome you all on the occasion of the presentation
of the SADC Election Observation Mission (SEOM) Preliminary Statement
on the harmonised elections process in the Republic of Zimbabwe.
with the provision of the Southern African Development Community
(Sadc) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,
the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe invited Sadc to observe
its harmonised elections which were held on 31 July 2013.
a valid mandate, the Chairperson of the Sadc Organ on Politics,
Defence and Security Cooperation, His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete,
president of the United Republic of Tanzania, officially constituted
the Sadc Election Observation Mission (SEOM) to the Republic of
Zimbabwe and directed the Sadc Executive Secretary, Dr Tomaz Augusto
Salomao to facilitate its administrative and logistical support.
H.E President Kikwete appointed me, Bernard Kamillius Membe (MP),
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of the
United Republic of Tanzania, to head the Mission.
guests, as you may recall, we officially launched the SEOM here
at the Harare International Convention Centre on 15 July 2013 in
the presence of electoral stakeholders in the Republic of Zimbabwe.
of 573 Observers was a demonstration of Sadc's efforts in assisting
the people of Zimbabwe to achieve peace and stability.
In this regard,
we would like to recall the signing in September 2008 of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) under the stewardship of Sadc and eventual
formation of the Inclusive Government.
Sadc is greatly
pleased that the GPA,
among its major achievements, delivered a new Constitution
that was ratified by the people of Zimbabwe through the Referendum,
which was held on the 16th of March, 2013.
The new Constitution
has paved the way for the holding of the 2013 Harmonised Elections
to which our Mission was deployed to observer.
engagement by SEOM with other stakeholders, it is my honour to deliver
the Preliminary Statement of the Mission.
A final report
shall be released within thirty (30) days after the announcement
of the election results in line with the Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections.
role of the Sadc electoral observation mission:
The Sadc Electoral
Observation Mission derives its mandate from the Sadc Principles
and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, which emanate from
the African Union (AU) Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic
Elections in Africa and the AU Guidelines for African Union Election
Observation and Monitoring Missions.
the mission worked within the legal framework of the Republic of
The SADC Principles
and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections being the benchmark
and basis of our observation, the mission sought to determine the
existence of, among others, the following pre-conditions as the
scope of our observation:
and legal guarantees of freedoms and rights of citizens;
ii) Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections;
iii) Non-discrimination in voter registration;
iv) Existence of an updated and accessible voters roll;
v) Timeous announcement of the election date;
vi) Where applicable, transparent funding of political parties based
on the agreed threshold in accordance with the laws of the land;
vii) Establishment of the mechanism for assisting the planning and
deployment of the electoral observation missions;
viii) Neutral location of the polling station; and
ix) Counting of the votes at the polling stations.
ladies and gentlemen, let me indicate at this state that as part
of its preparation, the SEOM observers undertook formal preparation
prior to the deployment in the form of a two day debriefing and
refresher-training session conducted from 11-12 July 2013 to enhance
their capacities in their areas of deployment. The training, among
other things, focused on the following:
of the political context in the Republic of Zimbabwe;
ii) The constitutional and legal framework for the harmonised elections
in the Republic of Zimbabwe;
iii) Electoral Cycle and Election Observation Methodology;
iv) SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Election;
v) SADC Election Observation Mission and Code of Conduct for observers.
ladies and gentlemen, you may recall that during the launch of the
SEOM on 15 July 2013, we directed the observers to adhere to the
SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections in
conducting their duties with emphasis on the following:
That the observers
must comply with the laws and regulations of the Republic of Zimbabwe
and relevant international instruments governing democratic elections;
That they should
maintain strict impartiality in the conduct of their duties, and
shall at no time express any bias or preference in relation to national
authorities, parties and candidates in the election process. Furthermore,
they will not display or wear any partisan symbols, colours or banners;
That they will
base all reports and conclusions on well documented, factual and
verifiable evidence from a multiple number of credible sources as
well as their own eye witness accounts; and
That they should
work harmoniously with each other and other election observation
missions/organisations in their areas of deployment.
to all of you observers for adhering to all these principles. You
can go home with pride and dictum of "mission accomplished"
Deployment of SEOM observers
In an Endeavour to gather information and overall reflection of
this election, the mission deployed 170 teams of observers in all
the ten (10) Provinces of the Republic of Zimbabwe. In accordance
with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections,
Observers were given the responsibility to observe the harmonised
elections and to give comprehensive accounts of their findings in
their areas of deployment in order for the mission to provide an
As stated, SEOM
deployed 573 observers drawn from SADC Member States. This is the
largest observer Mission ever deployed by SADC.
The sheer numbers
of the mission are a clear indication and commitment of SADC to
work with the people of Zimbabwe.
of the mission consisted of members of Parliament, Civil Servants
and Civil Society Organisations.
of the mission across the country were co-ordinated from the Mission
Headquarters based at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare.
was staffed with officials from the Troika of the Organ, supported
by the SADC Secretariat.
Consultations with stakeholders:
In the course of its observation during the pre-election period,
the SEOM interacted with various electoral stakeholders in order
to gather information on various aspects of the electoral process.
included the following:
- Members of
the Zimbabwean Government;
Republic Police (ZRP);
Electoral Comission (ZEC)
- The African
Group of Ambassadors, the European Union Diplomatic Mission and
the Embassies of the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan , Norway ,
- The SADC
- Media Organisations;
- The Joint
Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC); and
- The AU Observer
Mission and other Observer Missions
enabled the mission to appreciate the prevailing political environment
in the country and efforts of the Zimbabwean people and relevant
institutions, particularly the Electoral Commission, in advancing
the integrity of the electoral process.
Major issues raised by stakeholders:
Stakeholders raised the following key issues of concern:
- The timing
of the election date;
regarding ZEC readiness to conduct the harmonised elections
for voter registration
relating to the special vote
- Media conduct
of JOMIC observers;
- Timeous availability
of an updated Voters roll
of more ballot papers versus registered voters
- Hate speech;
The SEOM pursued
some of these concerns in a systematic manner by conducting further
investigations and sought clarification and verification from the
relevant parties and authorities. Following were responses from
to the timing of the election date, the mission noted that pursuant
to the 31 May 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court those elections should
be held by 31 July 2013 the President of Republic of Zimbabwe proclaimed
31 July 2013 as the date for the harmonised elections.
This date was
subsequently upheld by the Constitutional Court following the application
for the postponement of the election date for two weeks on the advice
of the June 2013 Maputo
the mission noted that political parties accepted the election date
and participated in the electoral process with some raising their
concerns that such a short notice would affect proper voter registration
and updating of the voters' roll.
On ZEC's readiness
to conduct the harmonised elections, the mission was informed by
ZEC on 23 July 2013 that in line with their constitutional mandate
and notwithstanding the challenges that included, amongst others,
financial and logistical constraints, it proceeded with the necessary
timeframe for voter registration, some stakeholders raised concerns
about the inadequate time allocated for the electorate to register
the mission that voter registration was carried out in two phases.
The first phase
lasted 21 days.
This was followed
by a mandatory 30 day registration from 10th June to 09th July 2013
as espoused in the new constitution under sixth Schedule, Part 3,
Section 6 (3).
to the special vote, the Electoral
Act section 81 (a) and (b), states that electoral officers and
members of the disciplined forces are persons entitled to special
vote. Furthermore, section 67 of the Constitution confers the right
of citizens to exercise their right to vote.
observed that there were logistical challenges that made it impossible
for 265 160 out of a total of 65 956 registered members of the disciplined
forces and electoral officers to cast their vote.
further took note of the discrepancies raised by some stakeholders
regarding the actual number of disciplined forces in the payroll
versus registered members for Special Vote.
In its response
to the mission, ZEC acknowledged the logistical challenges relating
to the Special Vote.
prolonged nomination process which resulted in delayed printing
and delivery of voting material and unforeseen complexities affecting
the special voting.
and in consultation with electoral stakeholders, ZEC filed an application
with the Constitutional Court as the highest court in terms of the
judiciary hierarchy having the mandate to interpret the Constitutional
rights as enshrined in Part 2 on Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms,
for the disenfranchised eligible voters to coasty their ballots
ordinarily on 31 July 2013.
The Court ruled
in favour of the applicant ZEC assured the mission that the 31 July
2013 harmonised elections would proceed smoothly.
On media, a
number of stakeholders raised concerns about the coverage and editorial
bias of both the state and private media towards one or the other
party while other stakeholders raised concerns regarding the existence
of pirate media.
to media coverage of the elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Act states
shall afford all political parties and independent candidates contesting
an election such free access to their broadcasting services as may
be prescribed under Section 160G (d) a fair and balanced allocation
of time between each political party and independent candidate and
that each political party and independent candidate is allowed a
reasonable opportunity to present a case through the broadcasting
and print publishers shall ensure that all political parties and
candidates are treated equitably in their news media in regard to
the extent, timing and prominence of the coverage accorded to them.
with the assistance, at its request, of the Zimbabwe Media Commission
shall monitor the Zimbabwean news media during any election period
to ensure that political parties, candidates, broadcasters, print
publishers and journalists observe the provisions of the Act.
the SADC Principles and Guidelines governing Democratic Elections
stipulate that the State shall provide equal opportunity for all
political parties to access the State media.
has observed that State and Private Media in Zimbabwe is highly
to the above, ZEC informed the mission that the media Monitoring
Committee provided for in the law had been set up and was monitoring
the conduct of all media practitioners in relation to the elections.
Further, ZEC informed that they hold consu8ltative meetings with
all media houses with a view to bringing the provisions of the law
governing the media during elections to their attention.
Due to media
political affiliations, "ZEC has indicated that the matter
is out of their control. ZEC further said it has no capacity to
control pirate media as it is beyond their reach.
the Zimbabwe Media Commission indicated that the lack of funding
and lack of a unified media code of conduct impede its ability to
monitor media as required by the Act.
Inspite of the
forgoing, the mission observed that there was a wide media coverage
of the electoral process the mission noted that the media coverage
contributed to the peaceful environmental that ob stained during
the electoral period.
with Section 17 A and Section 21 (6) (a) (b) of the Electoral Act,
Voter registration and inspection of the voters' roll shall be conducted
on a continuous basis so as to keep the voters' roll up to date.
The law provides
for a "reasonable period" of time for the provision of
Voters' Roll for anyone who request for it. This means there should
b e sufficient time for the registered voters to;
a) Verify whether
or not their particulars are on the roll
b) If not on the roll, the time should be sufficient for the voter
c) The objection should be determined by the relevant body; and
d) The Registrar-General to comply with the decision of the relevant
was informed by some stakeholders that verbal and written requests
made to the Registrar General to provide a printed and electronic
version of the voter's roll as provided for in the electoral Act
were not responded to.
On 29 July 2013,
ZEC informed the mission that the Voters' Roll had reached the provinces
and each election officer had copies thereof.
had failed to comply with the electoral law stipulation that each
candidate should have three (3) copies of the voters" roll.
In this regard, ZEC had indicated that it was working closely with
the Registrar General to ensure that the three copies are delivered
to each candidate.
fail, ZEC would dispatch its own copies to the candidates by 30
On ballot papers,
some stakeholders raised concerns regarding the printing of more
ballot papers by 35 % than the registered voters.
ZEC explained that the additional 35% was for contingency purposes.
ZEC further informed the mission that at the end of the voting,
the votes shall be counted at each polling station and the results
sent to the ward which would enable accounting for all the ballot
papers received including the 35% additional ballots.
On the accreditation
of JOMIC observers, the mission was informed that JOMIC had applied
to accredit 30, 000 but only 1,500 observers were accredited.
noted reports of isolated incidences of political intolerance.
mission is pleased that in general the pre-election phase was characterised
by a largely tolerant and peaceful civic atmosphere.
its work in a transparent, orderly and professional manner.
observed that the majority of polling stations were opened at 07.00
in the presence of Party Agents, Observers and Police Officers.
further observed that Polling Officials were on hand to offer special
arrangements for voters with special needs.
observed that voting materials were available at the polling stations
at the time of opening and the necessary pre polling procedures
were conducted appropriately.
noted isolated instances where the ballot booklets had missing ballot
that the matter of the missing papers was receiving their attention
and could be attributed to a printing error.
also observed that as per the electoral procedures voters not appearing
on the voters roll were allowed to vote if they were in possession
of registration slips.
some polling stations some voters were refused to vote regardless
of being in possession of registration slips.
In this regard,
at a press conference convened at 14.30 on Election Day, ZEC appealed
to those voters who were refused to vote but had valid voter registration
slips to return and cast their ballots in their respective constituencies.
The mission observed that most polling stations closed at 19.00
in line with the Electoral Act and further noted that ZEC extended
voting time for those who were still in the queue by 19.00 hours.
observed that in general voting took place in a free and peaceful
environment and ZEC staff conducted themselves professionally.
observed that counting began immediately at the polling stations
after closing of the polls and was conducted procedurally and transparently.
also observed that Party Agents, local and international observers
witnessed the counting of votes in the polling stations.
After the counting,
the mission observed that electoral officers as well as party agents
signed the polling station return in the presence of observers and
each party agent received a copy of the polling station return.
observation of the mission is that, the counting process went well.
democratic practices and lessons learnt
In the course
of observing the elections the mission noted that there was general
adherence to the relevant national legal instruments and the SADC
Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
best democratic practices and lessons in the Zimbabwean Elections
leaders' continuous call for peace
of ZEC to observers' enquiries despite its workload
- ZEC's readiness
to accept responsibility and address the challenges arising from
the electoral process
of a multi-party liaison committee
- Prompt accreditation
- Use of indelible
ink to prevent double voting
- Use of translucent
election observation mission recommendations
is pleased to share the following recommendations with the citizens
and the electoral stakeholders of the Republic of Zimbabwe for the
enhancement of the electoral process.
implementation of Chapter 12 Part 5 Section 248 of the Constitution
on media reform to be read together with the Electoral Act Section
160 E to 160 H;
of funds to the Electoral Commission
of the voters' roll to be in line with the national population registry;
of the voters' roll on time for inspection.
In the main,
the electoral process was characterised by an atmosphere of peace
and political tolerance.
and candidates were able to freely undertake their political activities
to take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Zimbabwe
for turning up in large numbers to exercise their democratic right
to choose their political leaders.
A new chapter
in the process of consolidation of democracy in the Republic of
Zimbabwe has been opened and we hope that the people of Zimbabwe
will work together to build their country.
This is a major
step in the implementation of the GPA and I therefore would like
to take this opportunity to urge the political leadership and all
the people of Zimbabwe to uphold peace and stability. SEOM wishes
to implore all Zimbabweans to exercise restraint, patience and calm.
The future of
your country is in your hands.
SEOM would like to call on all political parties to respect and
accept the election results as will be announced by the constitutionally
mandated Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Whoever is aggrieved
with the results, should not re sort to violence, but rather should
go to the court of law, or engage in dialogue.
On behalf of
the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security cooperation,
His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic
of Tanzania and on behalf of the entire SADC family, I wish to sincerely
congratulate ZEC and the people of Zimbabwe for holding free and
peaceful harmonised elections on 31 July 2013.
Thank you very
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