Observers call for free, fair Zim polls

2013-07-16 09:05

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Harare - Regional mediators on Monday called for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe on 31 July as problems with early voting sent warning signals for the key presidential and parliamentary polls.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC), which brokered a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after Zimbabwe's 2008 election descended into violence, urged political players, security forces and the election commission to "exercise restraint and avoid frustrating voters".

"Voters must have unfettered access. That's what will make the elections free and fair. The conduct must go hand in hand with discipline of the highest order," Bernard Membe, who is heading the SADC's election observer mission, told a press conference.

The 15-member regional bloc will deploy 442 observers to cover 210 constituencies across the southern African nation in the upcoming polls, which will end the uneasy power-sharing deal and determine whether Mugabe, 89, extends his 33 years in power.

The African Union will also send observers, but Zimbabwe has refused missions from Western nations.

Local election monitors meanwhile called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to extend early voting for thousands of police officers, which started on Sunday but was marred by chaos.

Polling stations opened late and many lacked indelible ink, stamps, voter rolls and ballot papers and boxes.

"The process continues to be disorganised, an indication that ZEC was unprepared to conduct the special voting process," said Zimbabwe Election Support Network chair Solomon Zwana.

The problems were an ominous signal ahead of the upcoming vote, he added.

The group was "seriously concerned that the chaos that prevailed during the special voting process serves as a telling and worrying indicator that could repeat itself," he said.

Zimbabwe Republic Police

Police spokesperson Charity Charamba conceded two days were not enough for the voting.

"Indications on the ground are that it is now clear that members and officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police have been unable to exercise their constitutional right to vote," she said.

Charamba refused to blame election organisers for the delays, denouncing instead Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change for in-fighting between dissident election candidates.

"The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was therefore unable to print ballot papers as they did not have the final list of candidates," she said.

Security chiefs openly support Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, and have blasted Tsvangirai as a stooge of the West.

The security forces, which fall under Mugabe's control, have in the past been accused of rights abuses and intimidating political opponents.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed their power-sharing government a year after the violent and disputed polls of 2008.

Tsvangirai, 61, won the first round of that vote, but pulled out of the runoff after around 200 opposition activists were killed.

The tenure of the compromise government has been marked by frequent haggling and allegations of political violence.

Tsvangirai has deplored the lack of reform in the security forces as well as the media, and has protested against Mugabe's unilateral declaration of an election date.

But the vote is going ahead after the Constitutional Court upheld the date, leaving only a month for campaigning.

The country also lacks much of the $132m to organise the poll.

SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao implored the nation to conduct a credible vote.

"We therefore urge the people of Zimbabwe to demonstrate their political maturity by upholding democratic values, principles and practices," said Salomao.

Mugabe however has threatened to abandon the regional bloc - one of its last allies - if it interferes in the polls.

Violence, intimidation and allegations of stuffing voters' rolls with "ghost voters" have long marred Zimbabwe's elections.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.