CONTROVERSY over Zimbabwe’s disputed elections continues to hog the global limelight as foreign Parliaments debate the polls which saw President Emmerson Mnangagwa being declared winner last month.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob, were this week grilled in their Parliaments for endorsing Mnangagwa’s controversial victory in the August 23 and 24 elections.
Ramaphosa, Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Felix Tshikekedi were the only heads of State who attended Mnangagwa’s inauguration on Monday.
Geingob and others sent congratulatory messages, while somes countries were represented by their ministers at the ceremony held in Harare on Monday.
Ramaphosa was the first to be taken to task on Tuesday by opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen for siding with Mnangagwa despite the unresolved election dispute.
“By aligning South Africa with these so-called members of the clan (BRICS), you are standing with autocrats and dictators, sacrificing the principles enshrined in our own Constitution,” Steenhuisen said.
BRICS is an economic bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“It’s the same reason why you attended the inauguration. You know full well that your party (ANC) is following in (Zanu PF) footsteps,” the DA leader added.
“Mr President, do you care nothing about the suffering and deprivation experienced by women of Hara (Haara al-Wazarat) in Saudi Arabia and the people of Zimbabwe, who are now saddled with an illegitimate election which our own Sadc region has cast aspersions on.”
Election observer missions, including the one from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), flagged the polls as not credible.
The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) is demanding fresh polls supervised by Sadc and the African Union (AU).
But Zanu PF has ignored the CCC demands.
Ramaphosa, however, said there was nothing wrong with him attending Mnangagwa’s inauguration.
“We are friends with all countries in the world. We are enemies of none. Consequently, those who would want us to be enemies of other countries are knocking on the wrong door,” he said.
“We impart our values to others and, if you care, you can travel with us around the world and interact with the people we meet.”
Geingob was next in the line of fire yesterday after a Namibian Member of Parliament, Maximalliant Tjekupe Katjimune of the Popular Democratic Movement, said: “Elections in Zimbabwe have over the years been tainted by claims of irregularities, voter suppression and lack of transparency.
“The elections held on August 23 and 24 were no different.
“This (congratulatory message) by Geingob is inconsistent with Namibia’s longstanding commitment to democratic principles and human rights, both regionally and internationally.”
Zimbabwe also dominated debate in the United Kingdom, where some lawmakers said Harare should not be admitted to the Commonwealth because of the disputed elections.
Lord Jonathan Oates said the elections were not free and fair.
“Will the UK government be rather less equivocal and make absolutely clear that they do not regard these elections as free and fair and that the government of Zimbabwe have no legitimacy?” Oates said.
“Will they make clear that, as long as this is the case, it will not be readmitted to the Commonwealth, as far as Britain is concerned, and that we will work with Sadc colleagues to try to find resolutions to the problem?.”
Baroness Denise Kingsmill said: “Will the minister agree that the ideal (thing) would be for Zimbabwe to re-enter the Commonwealth, but it can do so only when it meets the standards of proper democracy, the rule of law and free elections?.”
Lord Tariq Ahmad said there was need for Zimbabwe to comply with Commonwealth charter values such as the holding of credible elections in order to be readmitted to the grouping.
As Zimbabwe continued to dominate debate in Parliaments outside the country, it also emerged that Ramaphosa was involved in behind-the-scenes engagements with Harare to resolve the election dispute.
This was exposed by ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula as he opposed the invitation extended to Zimbabwean academic Ibbo Mandaza to deliver a public lecture at the ANC-affiliated OR Tambo School of Leadership in Johannesburg.
“At the moment, the leadership of the ANC is engaged in a number of delicate engagements regarding the situation in Zimbabwe.
“In this context, a public lecture at this time, on what is clearly an ANC platform, would complicate these initiatives,” Mbalula said.
Mandaza’s address, scheduled for today, was postponed indefinitely.
Mbalula has courted the ire of the CCC for siding with Zanu PF.
Yesterday, CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi had no kind words for him.
“Mbalula’s conduct is in violation of the values and principles of democracy, pan-Africanism, and Ubuntu,” Mkwananzi said.
“We still believe that South Africa must play a key role in resolving the Zimbabwean stalemate, and Mbalula’s conduct undermines this narrative.” Newsday