SADC on Zim polls: Free and peaceful, but was it fair?

2013-08-02 16:00

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission to Zimbabwe has declared the elections free and peaceful, but the regional body is yet to decide if the polls were fair.

Head of the team’s observer mission Bernard Membe said a final ruling on whether the elections were fair would be made within 30 days, and will be part of the team’s final report.

Presenting the team’s preliminary report to journalists at the Rainbow Hotel in Harare today, Membe said the elections were free.

“It was very, very peaceful, but the question of fairness will be addressed in our final report within 30 days.”

SADC’s report follows that of the African Union earlier this morning, which raised grave concerns around the voters’ roll, the number of ballots that were printed, the number of people who were turned away at voting stations and Zimbabwe’s biased media. SADC has raised similar issues.

These include:

» The failure to timeously avail the voters’ roll to political parties and candidates;

» The printing of more than 2 million extra ballot papers, which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said was for contingency purposes;

» Biased media, in particular the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation, which refused opposition parties airspace;

» The timing of the election; and

» Voters who were turned away.

“Under the circumstances, this election has gone well. No election in the world would be perfect.”

He said the opposition MDC-T’s call for the election to be nullified was unreasonable.

“We cannot say that the results should be nullified. At what cost? We can say many words, but at the end of the day we have to exercise restraint.”

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