RESPECTED Political Analyst Ibbo Mandaza has revealed how regional body SADC and former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan were not impressed by how Zimbabwe conducted its elections and described them as the worst they had ever witnessed.
Jonathan led the African Union (AU) and COMESA Election Observer Missions (EOMs), his fourth such undertaking since 2016 after Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.
Mandaza spoke on HStv’s In Conversation with Trevor on the just-ended ‘chaotic’ polls that saw Zanu PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa declared winner.
He revealed personal deliberations with observer teams, some of which he did not mention, in which they shared widely held reservations about the manner in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) managed the polls.
Mandaza said all the observers he met told him they were embarrassed and had never witnessed the chaos that occurred on August 23.
“I have no doubt that the region was not happy with the elections, I took two hints and the first was what Cyril said to the SABC, he said it is protocol,” said Mandaza in reference to questions the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was asked after congratulating Mnangagwa.
“Secondly there would have been conversations between Heads Of State through the weekend and many of which would have conveyed the message that we are not happy with what happened in Harare.
“I met both heads of observers from the AU and SADC, and all were acutely embarrassed about what happened, Jonathan, Nevers Mumba, and the Namibian delegation, notwithstanding the grandstanding when they got back home and criticised the report.
“They all said this was the worst election they had ever seen. There is consensus about the election, it was incredible. The reputation of Zimbabwe and rigging is now legendary.”
Despite promises all was in order by ZEC, election day was characterised by massive delays the opposition claims affected millions.
Ballot papers were only delivered late in the night at most Polling Stations in perceived opposition strongholds, quasi-security Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) was virtually untouchable across the country despite allegations of it targeting violence on opposing individuals and unprecedented levels of voter intimidation.
Members of two observer missions, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and Election Resource Centre (ERC) were arrested while their gadgets were confiscated by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
A damning preliminary report by SADC, the first time Zimbabwe has been subjected to such scrutiny, has reportedly resulted in a cold war between the country and neighbouring Zambia from where the EOM’s head Nevers Mumba was appointed by his President Hakainde Hichilema.
Hichilema is the current Chairperson of SADC’s Organ for Politics, Defence, and Security.
Mandaza said follow-up conversations with foreign offices within the region painted a worse-off picture; SADC wants to nullify the election he claimed.
“I have been in touch with all governments in the region at the level of foreign affairs,” he added.
“It’s clear that this will not be put under the carpet. There is no legitimacy; the inauguration of Emmerson can be reversed under the rules.
“This is why Emmerson pushed for the rush, in the same scenario Robert Mugabe did in 2008. It is the same script to pre-empt the SADC position. Will SADC allow that again? I don’t think so.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has also been battling fires for congratulating Mnangagwa and was one of only three Heads of State to attend last week’s hurried inauguration, has indicated that the regional body will be reviewing the final report.
“SADC is going to sit down and analyse everything, let us wait until all that comes out but the electoral commission has made a declaration and it is on that basis that we have issued our congratulatory message,” said Ramaphosa.
Mnangagwa’s legitimacy is being questioned for the second time since he toppled Mugabe in a coup, 2017. SADC, the AU, European Union (EU), America’s Carter Center and The Commonwealth and The United Kingdom have all expressed concern this time. NewZimbabwe