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IF there were any doubts about the Zimbabwe election, these have now been settled by the report of the Zimbabwe Council of Catholic Bishops, who have called for an audit because of the many irregularities experienced.

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These irregularities had nothing to do with whether there were external influences by the so-called imperialists. 

The irregularities were a result of sheer incompetence or indeed deliberate manipulation to disenfranchise a large number of people, especially in the opposition strongholds.

The very fact that independent observers were arrested and their equipment confiscated to prevent transparent and alternative observation of the disaggregated voters, derived from an equally faulty voters’ roll invalidated the credibility of the entire exercise.

In a statement, the Catholic Bishops admitted that there were many challenges regarding the administration of the elections, which included among other things, the unavailability of voting materials in some polling stations.

Voters could not find their names on the voters’ roll and more insidiously, they noted, there were groups of people who mounted exit poll survey desks near polling stations and distribution of campaign regalia to voters at polling stations, all this contrary to electoral laws.

Worrying in some communities, they noted was the distribution of material discouraging people to go and vote.

In the spirit of peace and love after election, they called upon all the aggrieved parties to seek redress through legal procedures.

Indirectly referring to ZANU-PF and Police disruption of opposition political rallies and gatherings, the Bishops categorically stated that these actions violated the right to association as enshrined in section 58 of the constitution.

More importantly, the Bishops called for respect for international observers and let their objective assessment of the election “Help us as a nation to correct ourselves and move on. Their input should enrich us and act as a light showing the nation, where corrections are needed.”

The Bishops have called for peace and serious introspection as the matters raised by the polls are resolved through the various redress processes.

Therefore, the attacks on external forces, including the influence of imperialism is far from the malaise that visited the polls, which shortcomings must be addressed objectively.

It is understandable that the observer mission has created consternation as it has departed from the normal reports that often fail to address real issues that elections, including our own in Zambia, face. 

Hence, an observer mission to Zambia made very little mention of the violence that accompanied the 2021 elections, including the fact that observers were chased out of polling stations in some parts of the country.

Not only that, video evidence is available indicating a high level of manipulation and tampering of votes at polling stations, which the observers were aware of but chose to ignore in their final reports.

The SADC report must be commended for being brave, forthright and above all, objective in identifying factual infringements that hopefully, the legal process, which the Bishops have recommended, will examine to ensure that future elections are not marred.

Time must come for Africa to realise when the vote counts.



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