SADC offers Zimbabwe election help

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Zimbabweans will go to polls next year

SADC has undertaken to underwrite Zimbabwe’s upcoming general election’s technical requirements.Visiting Sadc Electoral Advisory Council chairperson, Leshele Thohlane told Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Sibusiso Moyo that the regional body’s election watchdog will meet all stakeholders in Zimbabwe before producing a report on the country’s preparedness.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

“The purpose of this visit is two-fold, to congratulate you (Moyo) on your assignment to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. We want to welcome you and offer you our technical abilities, where needed, (and) to co-operate fully with the ministry,” he said.

Zimbabwe will go to the polls in the next few months with President Emmerson Mnangagwa consistently declaring he wants a free, fair and credible election. Mnangagwa came to power on the back of a military intervention in November last year that forced former President Robert Mugabe into resigning in a huff.

Thohlane said his team, which includes top officials from Sadc’s political, defence and security desks, will be in the country for a week.

“Our terms of reference are that we should come and assess the state of readiness as far as the elections are concerned. We will be doing that by interacting with all the stakeholders starting today until the end of the week.

“The stakeholders include a number of political [parties], the media and the other sectors involved in the management of the elections. Out of that interaction we would be able to assess how ready the Republic [of Zimbabwe] is to hold elections. We will then write a report to the executive secretary, who in turn will communicate with the head of summit, who will then commission a mission to observe the elections [proper],” Thohlane said.

Moyo said Zimbabwe considers the regional bloc as critical to its preparations for the polls.

“As probably the first and most important pre-election observation group, which has come into this country, you have come at the appropriate time, even before the proclamation, so that you can understand and provide technical advice, which is critical for us to deliver what we desire as a government which is a transparent, credible, free and fair election.

“As a sub-region, we believe that Sadc is the most critical organisation and, therefore, we would want to get as much technical support and advise as is possible,” he said.

Mnangagwa is under pressure to deliver an untainted poll, which will mark a departure from Mugabe’s toxic elections that resulted in Zimbabwe earning pariah status and the former Zanu PF leader being slapped with travel restrictions by global powers. The new Zanu PF leader has already extended invitations to election observers to “anyone interested” including Mugabe’s traditional enemies, the European Union, Britain and the US.