BOSA condemns Zimbabwe elections, calls for action

Build One South Africa (BOSA), one of South Africa’s opposition political parties, has called on its government to break diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe and remove the Zimbabwean ambassador in the aftermath of the August 23 elections, which were marred by irregularities.

Led by Mmusi Maimane, BOSA, also called on the South African government to proclaim the Zimbabwean elections a sham and to end all diplomatic relations with the Zimbabwean government forthwith.

“BOSA calls on the government of South Africa to begin reviewing economic relationships with Zimbabwe. In the same way that ECOWAS has taken a strong position on irregular and unfair elections, BOSA calls for an Extraordinary Summit of SADC nations to discuss the electoral crisis in Zimbabwe and how to resolve the impasse,” read a statement issued by the party on August 29, 2023.

“BOSA calls for all South Africans to reject the election outcomes in Zimbabwe. There is currently no legitimately elected government in Zimbabwe and South Africa as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should uphold principles of democracy, the interest of the region and all of its peoples.”

According to the opposition party, democracy is based on the idea that those who govern draw their authority from the permission of the people in that country, and that consent, including mandate, is achieved through regular transparent free and fair elections.

However, “elections in Zimbabwe have not been free, fair, or transparent,” BOSA said, adding that South Africa and the SADC region cannot conduct business as usual while a crucial SADC country is in a democratic crisis.

“In the Zimbabwe elections period, there were numerous irregularities observed. Opposition rallies were arbitrarily and capriciously banned. There was limited access for opposition parties to state media on print, radio and television and opposition politicians were arrested,” BOSA said.

“These actions had the cumulative effect of limiting the ability of opposition parties to exercise their political rights and speech rights. Zanu PF was observed engaging in voter buying practices during its rallies. The election period before voting was therefore not free and not fair.”

 On Election Day there were material delays in the delivery of voting materials to key opposition constituencies such as Harare and Bulawayo, compromising the ability of many voters to exercise their constitutional rights to vote, BOSA added. 

Even though voting was extended into a second day, BOSA said it was “foreseeable that some voters who wanted to vote would not be able to vote.”

BOSA also questioned how the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) failed to deliver ballots  timeously to Harare and Bulawayo yet had announced that it printed over seven million ballot papers.

“On the Election Day there were members of a state-affiliated security organisation known as Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) who participated in voter intimidation and harassment at various polling stations. The intention of this entity was ostensibly to intimate voters into voting for Zanu PF,” the opposition party claimed.

Failure to address FAZ operations and its impact on the election is an indication of gross negligence of ZEC, BOSA stated because “intimidation of voters is illegal.”

BOSA took note of various official election observer missions that issued preliminary findings about Zimbabwe’s elections, saying they are consistent that the election did not meet the standards of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

“The observer missions were clear that there were significant and material transgressions in these elections, which led to their declining to endorse Zimbabwe’s elections,” BOSA highlighted.

“It is critical to note that for the very first time, the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) did not endorse this election.”

BOSA advised South Africa that as a leading SADC member, it must not deviate from the SEOM findings because it will undermine the integrity and authority of SADC. 

In the same note, BOSA also called on all South Africans to recognise that Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis “directly affects South Africa.”

“Our health care systems, social services and communities are facing increasing strain from the influx of undocumented immigrants from Zimbabwe. Our nation cannot ignore the democratic crisis on our doorstep because the conflagration from the collapse of Zimbabwe creates secondary fires in our nation,” summed BOSA.

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