The observer missions from the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), AU-COMESA, and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC (ECF-SADC) released a joint statement earlier today.
The missions noted several shortcomings in the electoral process. Check them below.
- The delimitation of constituencies was done in an unconstitutional and unfair manner, resulting in unequal representation of voters.
- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) failed to provide timely and transparent access to the voters’ roll, which is a key document for verifying the eligibility and identity of voters.
- The nomination fees for candidates were raised from US$1,000 to US$20,000 for presidential candidates, which was seen as a barrier to political participation and inclusivity.
- The state-owned media outlets were biased against the opposition parties and candidates, violating the principle of impartiality and balance in media coverage.
- The police disrupted some of the rallies of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), infringing on the freedom of assembly and expression of the citizens.
- The Patriotic Bill, which criminalises criticism of the government and the military, was unconstitutional and restrictive of the freedom of speech and opinion.
- The former cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere was disqualified from running for president by the High Court on the grounds that he was out of the country for more than 18 months, which was challenged as unconstitutional and arbitrary by his lawyers.
- There were allegations of voter intimidation by a group called Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ). Observers reported that FAZ was said to be a quasi-security intelligence organisation deployed to wards and about 36 000 villages.
- There were controversies surrounding the postal voting and allegations of coerced voting by police officers.
Recommendations By Regional Observers
The observer missions acknowledged that it was premature to pass judgment on the credibility of the elections as the electoral process was still ongoing, especially since the announcement of the presidential results was pending. However, they did identify some areas of improvement for future elections, such as:
- ZEC should adhere to the constitutional provisions regarding transparency and access to information by promptly and transparently providing the voters’ roll as stipulated in the Electoral Act.
- ZEC should engage with relevant stakeholders to revise the nomination fees for candidates, taking into consideration the regional and economic context of Zimbabwe.
- Media regulatory authorities should enforce measures that ensure impartiality in the coverage of political events by state-owned media outlets.
- ZEC should enhance transparency in the procurement and delivery of voting materials, including ballot papers, by implementing a monitoring system that involves the participation and verification of electoral stakeholders.
- The SADC, AU and COMESA observer missions also urged all contestants in Zimbabwe’s elections to follow established legal procedures in case of electoral disputes and appealed to all Zimbabweans to maintain peace and calm during this critical period. They also expressed their commitment to continue observing the post-election phase until 1 September 2023