via SADC compromised African democracy: Biti | The Zimbabwean by Sofia Mapuranga
The Movement for Democratic Change has accused the Southern Africa Development Community of setting a bad precedent for the promotion of democratic principles in the region following recent announcements by its head of Election Observer Mission, Bernard Mwembe, endorsing the recent elections as credible, free and fair.
Addressing journalists at the party’s headquarters in Harare today, Secretary General Tendai Biti said his party had written to SADC seeking a retraction of Mwembe’s statements after consultations with the SADC Secretariat, South Africa and other countries in the region had revealed that Mwembe’s statement was not in tandem with the final report that is yet to be released.
“His (Mwembe)’s credibility is questionable considering that SADC as an association has not yet finished compiling the final report regarding the just ended harmonised elections. His statements are based on the preliminary report that was released by SADC on August, 2,” he said.
SADC deployed 573 election observers from its affiliate member states during the polls: the biggest deployment in the history of the regional bloc.
Biti said the sudden u-turn by SADC to endorse the elections was reflective that there was ‘fear among member states that they cannot let their nationalist brother (President Robert Mugabe) down’.
He revealed that his party had consulted with the SADC Secretariat in Botswana, South Africa and other neighbours who had confirmed that Mwembe’s statement was not endorsed by other African countries making up the election observer mission.
“Endorsing this sham process is lowering the standards of democratic elections not only for the MDC but for Africans especially those that are set to hold their polls in the near future such as Malawi and South Africa,” said Biti.
The MDC accused Mwembe of delivering a report that was not accurate, not comprehensive and which failed to address the fundamental issues that determine the freeness, fairness and credibility of the polls.
“The recent released summary of the report is not a SADC report but one emanating from the Tanzanian minister of Foreign Affairs,” said Biti.
“It is self-contradictory, inconsistent and incoherent considering that it does not address the SADC guidelines governing the conduct of democratic elections.
Since the announcement of election results proclaiming Mugabe as the ultimate winner of the July 31 elections, opposition parties have come out guns blazing describing the whole electoral process as ‘flawed by serious irreguralities hence compromising the election outcome’.