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THE virulent attack against the person of Dr. Nevers Mumba and Zambia in general over the critical SADC report against the shambolic Zimbabwe election, is totally uncalled for.

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It is even more shocking that Zambians have jumped on the bandwagon castigating and condemning Dr. Mumba on account of an official preliminary report that must have been crafted by technocrats, who observed the existential reality on the ground. He was duty bound to deliver it.

Indeed, it is common knowledge that arrangements for the poll, as organised by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission were shambolic, a fact admitted by the commission itself. It admitted many constitutional and practical shortcomings that visited the polls.

However, events outside the polls, the conduct of state agencies and the ruling ZANU-PF, constituted a major affront, impunity and high handedness offensive to civility and rule of law. By the time of elections more than 50 election observers conducting private Voter Tabulation, were arrested and their computers and equipment confiscated.

Among those arrested were members from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Election Resource Centre Zimbabwe both of which are well established organisations that have observed previous elections.

Their main offence was an accusation that they were about to release unofficial results. They were hauled before magistrate courts and charged US$200 bail before being released without their equipment. This effectively put paid to any form of transparency. 

This was in addition to the fact that polling stations in opposition strongholds opened late and often without adequate ballot papers, resulting in an extension of polling by a day, which exercise has also raised fears of figure fudging.

These shortcomings were not the making of the SADC observer team which Dr. Mumba headed.

Although we did not agree with the appointment of Dr. Mumba for this onerous task, often reserved for former Presidents, an attack on his person is totally unacceptable, because it takes away from the gravity of irregularities that have disenfranchised thousands of Zimbabweans. 

It is indeed in order that the SADC secretariat has issued a statement defending Dr. Mumba whose duty was to read the official statement, which observed many irregularities which, in the past, would not have seen the light of day.

It is true that Zimbabwe is a sovereign state with every right to pass legislation, just as it was true that South Africa was a sovereign state with every right to enforce apartheid which was a law legally enacted, but of course obnoxious.

It is however the practical voter suppression strategies that must still be sorted out in court. The observer mission noted that during the voting period and at 26 percent of the polling stations observed, not all voters who turned out could vote either because although the voters were identified, because their names could not be found on the voters roll and therefore it was not possible to establish their identity.

In short Zimbabwe went to the polls without a verifiable voter’s roll- a pre-requisite for any election.

On this count alone, the vote could not be declared, free fair and credible.



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