Troika ministers tell Zim that insults on election observers undermine SADC’s credibility

SADC Troika ministers have condemned personal attacks and threats directed at the head of the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM), Dr Nevers Mumba, as well as the organ’s chairperson, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, as undermining SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

The Zimbabwe government reacted strongly after the Head of the SEOM issued a stinging assessment on Zimbabwe’s August 23 election, with SADC noting that the attacks against Dr Mumba came from both the ruling Zanu PF and those in high-level public positions.

“The narratives in these attacks have been that the SEOM Preliminary Statement on the Zimbabwe Election was personally authored by Dr Mumba.” said a communique issued from an extraordinary meeting of the ministerial committee of the Organ (EO-MCO Troika) conducted virtually on Wednesday.

The EO-MCO Troika reiterated that SEOMS are in line with the SADC principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and may have a negative impact on future SEOMs, particularly with another election scheduled for September 29 in the Kingdom of Eswatini.

The EO-MCO Troika noted that if such attacks are “unchecked,” further attacks on the leadership of the Organ and of the SEOM have the “potential to damage the credibility of SADC as an institution.”

“We acknowledge and commend the Secretariat for taking the initiative to issue media statements that clarified the procedures that are followed by the SEOM and in the same statements for protecting the credibility and leadership of the Organ and the SEOM,” said the troika ministers.

According to the SEOM report on Zimbabwe’s elections, police stifling of opposition campaigns, the impartiality of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), failure to deliver ballot papers in opposition strongholds, and involvement of the Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (FAZ) in intimidating rural voters were among the factors that boosted Zanu PF votes.

This early report prompted insults and threats from Zanu PF officials who believed the SEOM was manipulated by foreign elements.

Other international observation teams, also, indicated in their preliminary assessments that the elections failed to meet regional and global criteria of conducting free and fair elections.

The regional ministers added that “given that some circumstances are unpredictable, and that there will always be some individuals who will not agree with the SEOM, all reports and statements should be crafted in a manner that ensures relevant procedures and rules are followed to protect the SADC institutions from the unwarranted attacks.”

“Continue to field technically experienced staff from the Secretariat who are complemented by capacitated observers to facilitate the work of the SEOM and the secretariat to ensure that the Organ Troika Member States continue to process, adopt and own the reports of the SEOM so as to avoid unwarranted suggestions that the reports are the product of one individual or Member State.”

The Zimbabwean government and Zanu PF were yet to respond on the Troika ministerial position.

Zanu PF has since convened a media conference this Friday where it is expected to issue a response to the statement by SADC.

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