A major blow has been dealt to the Citizens Coalition for Change supporters who were pinning their hopes on the Extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community held yesterday that endorsed Zimbabwe’s August 23, 2023 elections as “exemplary and a major victory for democracy” and implored other countries in the region due to hold their polls later this year to emulate Harare.
Addressing the summit, held virtually and drawing Heads of States and Government from the region, SADC Chairperson and Angolan leader, President Joao Lourenco, hailed Zimbabwe and the Kingdom of Eswatini for recently holding elections in a democratic manner, saying other countries that were due to hold elections this year had a lot to learn from the two countries.
The extraordinary virtual summit was convened to discuss the security situation in the region with particular focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo where there have been hostilities in eastern parts of the country.
The summit is expected to continue this Saturday in Luanda, Angola where leaders are expected to hold a physical meeting after encountering some connectivity glitches yesterday.
President Lourenco, who initially congratulated President Mnangagwa for his election victory when they met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, repeated the same message during yesterday’s Extraordinary Summit which was attended by several Heads of State and Government who included President Mnangagwa and the Chairperson of Sadc Troika on Politics, Defence and Security and Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema.
“Your Excellencies, allow me to congratulate His Excellency, Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Majesty King Mswati (III) for the exemplary elections that were recently conducted in your countries where there was tranquillity and the orderly manner in which they took place constituted a major victory for democracy and contribution to peace and stability amongst everyone in the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Kingdom of Eswatini.
“Allow me to express our hope that this same spirit will also be seen in the elections that will take place in the Republic of Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said President Lourenco.
The endorsement of the election in Zimbabwe has put a dent in the opposition party’s hopes that it was going to overturn the election according to the preliminary report released by SADC EOM head Nevers Mumba that dubbed the elections as falling “short” to meet the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
Most observers, countries and liberation movements, that include South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, gave the elections a clean bill of health and hailed the peaceful process that occurred before, during and after the polls.
In an interview soon after the meeting, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava said President Lourenco was quite precise in his acknowledgement of how credible the Zimbabwean elections were.
“He was very positive and congratulated Zimbabwe once again. If you remember he did congratulate His Excellency, President Mnangagwa, for his re-election when we were in New York during UNGA. Today at the opening ceremony, he repeated that same message and also congratulated the Kingdom of Eswatini. Nothing more about Zimbabwe came out, although we identified an agenda item which wanted to discuss Zimbabwe but we adjourned before we got to it. Of course it was included by the people who prepared it, the Secretariat,” said Ambassador Shava.
He said Zimbabwe felt the inclusion of the item was not procedural given that an extraordinary meeting should not stray into other areas but focus on the purpose for which the meeting was convened.