The SADC Electoral Advisory Council is in Harare, Zimbabwe ahead of the general elections to be held in July or August this year. Their mission is to assess the political and security environment to see if they are conducive for the holding of free, fair, transparent and credible elections in conformity with the revised SADC principles and guidelines.
They met key stakeholders including senior ZANU PF officials and the main opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change. Briefing journalists SADC Electoral Advisory Council representative Justice Ticheme Dlamini said they had a fruitful engagement with the relevant parties. They also engaged SADC diplomats accredited too Zimbabwe for the pre-election assessment.
“We hope that upcoming elections will be dispute-free elections prepare a report,” he said.
The SADC team is yet to meet with other stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive report.
Over the week they met the army, police, churches, UN, AU and many other electoral stakeholders to consolidate the views from all before preparing a report.
SADC has clearly laid down principles and guidelines as far as elections are concerned, and Zimbabwe as a member has to adhere to.
Citizens Coalition for Change president Advocate Nelson Chamisa speaking to the media after their meeting with SADC expressed their hope that their concerns will be addressed before elections. In the past, CCC had written to SADC for intervention.
“It’s fulfilling position and we are motivated that there is an ear to our issues. We have been crying and we continue to cry our cries based on issues of principle. We are not in agreement on the issues of the voters roll. And we appreciate that they gave us this opportunity to share with them where we are.” Nelson Chamisa.
CCC is demanding the release of the voters roll to the public in analyzable and searchable format so that they are able to audit if need be.
Chamisa further said, “We do not want to remain in this vicious cycle of disputed elections with discredited outcomes. We want the elections to be credible. We want elections to be democratic. We want elections to be legitimate, so that we do not have a disputed state and the disputed president as we have seen in the past elections.”
CCC is also calling for a political dialogue and agreement pact before elections by all political stakeholders so that they iron out disputes on the electoral process. They hoped the elections will yield a credible result which should be upheld and be respected by the people of Zimbabwe, South Africa and the AU.
“We believe in African solutions to African problems. And that’s why we continue to knock at the doors of SADC. When there is dispute domestically, we need to run to them. And we need to be held to help ourselves and to help the region for stability.”
Chamisa pointed out that more than 5 million Zimbabweans were living in the diaspora causing nightmare to the region. Countries like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, have the highest number of Zimbabwean immigrants especially those living illegally. CCC implored SADC to help the people of Zimbabwe by making sure the elections are free and fair.
According to CCC, about fifty-eight of their rallies were banned. They spoke of the incarceration of their member of parliament, Hon. Job Sikhala.
“We want to restore the integrity and credibility of Southern Africa by being able to address citizen issues within the region. And of course, Zimbabwe is a case in point. Let’s have a holistic regional perspective and begin to show leadership so that we can solve our own problems. We don’t need foreigners, to dictate to us on how we must resolve our issues. We can do it as Africans, we’ve done it before our liberation, and our independence did not come as a gift. It was hard won, we can still win our legitimacy, we can still be able to transform this great continent, and our region, and we can do it and we will do it.”
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is yet to announce the date for the elections which according to the constitution will be proclaimed by the president. Voter registration is still on and will close two days after the proclamation of the election date.