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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Testimony given before The US House of Rep's Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations
    McDonald Lawenika, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    September 12, 2013

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    Mr. Chairman, allow me to start by passing my profound thanks to you and the committee for presenting me and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition an opportunity to testify in front of this committee. I would also like to request that my statement in its entirety be submitted for the record.

    My name is McDonald Lewanika, the Executive Director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, one of Zimbabwe’s leading networks on Governance and Democracy issues, with a membership of over 80 organizations. I am resident in Zimbabwe, and my job entails that I stay in constant contact with key political actors in the country, members of civil society and ordinary citizens of our republic. In addition, I am obligated to engage on a very regular basis with the press, both for purposes of making comment on and forwarding our understanding of political developments as well as exchanging notes as part of the same civil society.

    Mr. Chairman, my testimony will touch on various issues that stem from the disputed July 31 Harmonized Elections, moving on to key actors and developments since then that we believe have an impact on Zimbabwe’s transition. It will end with a set of recommendations to the United States that we believe are of importance to highlight in post election Zimbabwe.

    The results of the Elections of July 31 2013 were met with a lot of consternation by the generality of citizens, who up to this point do not believe that they were reflective of their will. Moreover ample evidence both anecdotal and empirical exists that shows that the election result was contrived in favor of Zanu-PF. This contrived result, which the SADC region and national institutions have gone on to give force to has the unfortunate effect of perpetuating the crisis in Zimbabwe, where legitimate government is concerned, and dims the hopes of Economic recovery, the respect of human and people’s rights as well as blighting prospects for democratic reform.

    SADC, the African Union and their verdict on Zimbabwe’s Elections

    Mr. Chairman, The African Union (AU) and SADC, as guarantors of the GPA were an integral part of the election observation in Zimbabwe. Both institutions endorsed the elections, but were non-committal with regards to the fairness of the process. The AU was very emphatic in highlighting the irregularities in the election processes limiting the elections from complying with the electoral guidelines and principles of the two institutions. This further exposed the institutional weaknesses in applying set standards in member states.

    At its meeting held in Malawi on 17 and 18 August 2013, SADC endorsed the Zimbabwe elections and also conferred the vice chairpersonship of the regional bloc on President Mugabe. This was a strong political statement by SADC on Zimbabwe’s election and also reflected a possible weakening in the strengthening of electoral democracy in the region. As President Mugabe begins another five-year term, SADC and AU have exhibited weaknesses likely to affect their influence on democratization processes in post-election Zimbabwe and other regional and continental countries.

    Mr. Chairman, On 2 September 2013, the chair of the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) Tanzania’s Foreign Minister, Mr Bernard Membe, presented a summary of the final report on behalf of the mission which reproduced SADC’s earlier endorsement of the general election. In our view, the final report was a mere formality given that the SADC leaders had already endorsed the election at the summit held in Malawi on 17 and 18 August 2013. In our respectful view the final report was a technicality meant to legitimize the already taken political decision. The above has led us to challenge the report by weighing its findings against our assessment of how the harmonized elections were conducted in Zimbabwe using the same SADC Principles and Guidelines. From our assessment it is difficult to accept the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) report as acceptable and as credible.

    Mr. Chairman, In respect of the 15 guidelines and standards assessed, there was virtually no compliance with regards to 8 (53.3%) and only partial compliance in line with 6 (40%). Only 1 (6.7%) principle was fully complied with which relates to the holding of elections at regular intervals. One of the most important guidelines regarding the existence of an updated and accessible voters’ roll was not complied with at all.

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