ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa has cautiously waded into the ongoing row between Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and Harare authorities after the regional body took an unprecedented step to reject the country’s shambolic and disputed elections won by the ruling Zanu PF.
In his acceptance speech at State House in Harare on Sunday, Mnangagwa responded to Sadc, saying: “There are no winners or losers, but one united people of Zimbabwe. Thus far, we have shamed our detractors who wished to see us divided and in turmoil,” Mnangagwa said.
“I equally take this opportunity to thank various election observation missions who have been witnessing our electoral processes without bias. As a sovereign state, we continue to call on all our guests to respect our national institutions, as they conclude their work.”
This followed clashes between the Sadc election observer mission head Nevers Mumba and his Zimbabwean authorities, particularly Zanu PF spokesman Chris Mutsvangwa, Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi over the regional body’s damning report on the country’s sham elections.
Despite the outrage from Harare, Sadc has refused to be intimidated and has stood firm.
“The secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has noted with deep concern, statements made about the Seom and the personal attacks directed at the Head of the Sadc Electoral Observation Mission (Seom), Dr Nevers Mumba, the former Vice-President of the Republic of Zambia, since the Seom released its Preliminary Statement on 25 August 2023. Some of these statements and attacks which have been aired on television, social media and newspapers are crude, scurrilous and misleading.
“The Sadc Electoral Observation Mission (Seom) is currently in the Republic of Zimbabwe to observe the electoral process of the 23-24 August Harmonised Elections in line with Article 3 of the Revised Sadc Principles and Guideline Governing Democratic Elections (2021). The chairperson of the Sadc Organ on Politics Defence and Security Cooperation, His Excellency Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia, appointed Dr. Nevers Mumba to lead the Seom in Zimbabwe.”
The Sadc election observer mission is mandated to observe elections in terms of the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, and all Sadc member states, including Zimbabwe, are signatory to these principles, which have been operational since 2004.
All Sadc member states send individuals to serve as observers under the Seom. For the August 2023 harmonised elections in Zimbabwe, observers were seconded from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.
“Based on observations made by the observers who were deployed to all the provinces of Zimbabwe, and consultations with stakeholders, the Seom issued its preliminary statement,” Sadc said.
“This statement is a summary of initial findings adopted after consultations with Member States who form the Sadc Organ Troika, supported by advice from the Sadc Electoral Advisory Council (Seac), and with support from the Sadc Secretariat. ‘Therefore, the Seom preliminary statement is a collective observation position of Sadc Observers, Troika Members, Seac, and the Sadc Secretariat and not a subjective opinion of one individual. The Seom remains on the ground to observe the post-election environment and to prepare and adopt a final report on the electoral process in Zimbabwe, still following the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Sadc reiterates its call for the people of Zimbabwe to remain calm and peaceful and use the legal system in case of any dispute regarding the outcome of the harmonised elections. The Sadc also calls upon all to exercise responsibility and decorum in how they express opinions regarding the electoral process and the Seom in general.”