SADC lawyers condemn Zimbabwe poll

Group concludes polls were not free, fair or credible

Richard Lee's picture

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Strategic communications for WWF

August 14th, 2013

Yet another organisation has come out and condemned the conduct of the elections in Zimbabwe.

While it is almost certainly too little too late since both the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) missions have given the polls the green light, the verdict of the is clear – the harmonised elections in Zimbabwe ‘could not be deemed to have been free, fair and credible’.

In its analysis of the Electoral Legal Environment, the SADC LA pulled no punches, declaring that the elections were ‘characterised by massive anomalies both in terms of the legal framework and in terms of non-adherence by state actors and the electoral management body to the spirit and letter of the electoral laws and the Constitution’.

The statement goes on to list a host of major concerns, including subverting the powers of parliament in relation to electoral laws by using unconstitutional presidential decrees, lack of meaningful reforms outlined in the Global Political Agreement and the SADC ‘roadmap’, far too short an electoral timeframe, and the Constitutional Court’s patently pro-government position.

And while polling day was generally peaceful, the SADC LA report – like previous reports – highlighted the ‘disconcerting’ number of voters that were turned away, the high number of assisted voters and the fact that assisted voters were not afforded an opportunity to be assisted by people of their own choice.

The report was based on the observations of a 25 member team from 10 different countries and will be followed by a second report covering all aspects of the election observation in the next few weeks.

But it is unlikely that the second report could be any clearer. These elections were not free and fair. They were not even ‘credible’.

Sadly, the SADC observer mission has more clout than the SADC LA – especially when it comes to the SADC Heads of State, who will undoubtedly congratulate Zimbabwe wholeheartedly for its ‘successful polls’ during their annual summit at the end of this week.

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