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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Africa putting relationships before principles
Rights NGO Forum
A series of
events over the weekend at the African Union and SADC levels critically
indicate that the region is prepared to ignore strong evidence in
support of electoral process manipulation in Zimbabwe. Once again
the region is placing relationships before principles - the major
root cause of corruption and mismanagement across Africa. The AU’s
statement at its meeting in Ethiopia and SADC’s vow that it
will stand by the country to ensure the vote will be “credible
enough' clearly points out to the fact that the region is prepared
to sacrifice principles in order to preserve ‘warm historical
relations with the Republic of Zimbabwe’. Such fears are buttressed
by President Zuma’s statement
of humble apology over what appears to be a diplomatic faux paus
between Pretoria and Harare.
issues facing Zimbabwe at the moment are: whether there has been
compliance with the Global Political Agreement especially the material
clauses that would give rise to an independent electoral commission,
non partisan security sector and judiciary as well as independent
media. The answer is an unequivocal 'No'. As we write, President
Mugabe has been packing the High Court bench with new Judges and
promoting some to the Supreme Court and serious plans are underway
to ensure that Zimbabwe's independent TV does not broadcast in Zimbabwe.
The second issue is whether the electoral conditions are consistent
with SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
The answer again is 'No'. It is not even necessary to take the inquiry
further to assess if the conditions and the late deployment of observer
missions comply with Articles 13(1) of the ACHPR and 19 of the ICCPR
as well as the Declaration of Principles for international election
both by SADC and the AU slightly fell short of their public certification
before the polls that electoral conditions are consistent with SADC
Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections as well
as with Article 13 (1) of the ACHPR.
On Friday 19
July the African Union categorically said that problems that bedevilled
Special Voting for members of the security forces this week do not
detract from the holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe
on July 31. The AU also further stated that assessments by the AU
Observer Mission showed Zimbabwe was on course to a credible vote.
"According to our observers on the ground, we believe that
it is possible to have free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. But
we cannot guarantee that it will be the most perfect or optimum
of situations," Dr Abdullahi was quoted as saying by AFP. "The
environment in Zimbabwe so far reassures us that the conditions
are good for the election
to be held on July 31," Dr Abdullahi said.
which Zimbabwe he is talking about. If he is talking about conditions
on the streets of Harare, yes the situation looks normal but if
he is speaking of the voters' roll then his statements could not
be further from the truth.
The AU statements
were echoed by SADC, which, although noted that putting together
an election within a month “is very stressful” vowed
to stand by the country to ensure the vote will be credible enough.
“We have committed to work with the people of Zimbabwe and
see whatever we can do to make sure within the remaining 11 days,
we can have an election that is going to be credible enough,”
he said’, SADC said.
It is yet to
be seen how, within 11 days, both SADC and AU will be in a position
to independently verify reports raising serious concerns over the
electoral roll. Without a credible, transparent and accessible voters’
roll it is inconceivable how Zimbabwe could ever have the prospect
of holding a free, fair and credible election.
are further backed by yet another unconfirmed but shocking report
in the media that the electoral process is being manipulated.
SADC and the
AU are prepared to ignore all these reports for the sake of expediency
and preserving good and warm relations with the people of Zimbabwe.
SADC’s overriding concern with relations rather than principles
is further seen in President Zuma’s statement in which he
regrets unauthorized statements on Zimbabwe. While that statement
appears to be an overture meant to correct what appears to be a
diplomatic faux paus, President Zuma’s goodwill is not reciprocated
by President Mugabe who has consistently attacked the former's top
foreign affairs advisor and spokesperson, Lindiwe Zulu.
Saturday summit came amid a renewed attack by Mugabe of Lindiwe
Zulu. Speaking at a campaign rally on Saturday, Mugabe said Zuma
should rein in Zulu and that SADC should not lie about the situation
in Zimbabwe. Zulu had said on Friday that there are still “challenges”
in the run up to Zimbabwe’s vote. But Mugabe said “I
appeal to President Zuma to stop this woman of theirs from speaking
official position clearly reveals that there is policy backtracking
and or dissonance within his government with regard to Zimbabwe.
Whilst Lindiwe Zulu has remained very principled by listening to
concerns by both civil society and the opposition, President Zuma
appears to be backtracking and this backtracking can be traced back
to Africa’s culture which values relationships over principles.
President Zuma says ‘South Africa remains fully committed
to the warm historical relations with the Republic of Zimbabwe and
wishes the people of Zimbabwe well as they prepare for the elections’.
However, what the President overlooks is that his best wishes for
the people of Zimbabwe should be demonstrated by insisting on principles
and values that are cherished across most SADC countries at the
moment.- values which are embodied in the SADC Charter and the Electoral
It would appear
that President Zuma is undergoing increasing pressure from the region
which is prepared to ignore the elephant in the room and sacrifice
all principles at the altar of expediency and good relations. There
is anecdotal evidence that President Mugabe is prevailing over the
region. For example the Daily Mail report cited above states that,
‘Yet the documents show a third of Mugabe’s election
fund is being spent on ‘regional diplomacy’ to ensure
a clean bill of health from the Southern African Development Community,
the 14 nations whose observers are monitoring the election’.
Baba Jukwa's Facebook page similarly confirms this.
At this crucial
historical juncture, South Africa would do itself and the region
a great favour by continuing to upholding the correct principles
and insisting on full compliance with the Global
Political Agreement. Rather than weaken its position within
the region, it will make it stronger and a beacon of hope for the
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