Zimbabwe’s opposition presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance says President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has not made any meaningful electoral reforms ahead of the forthcoming general elections.
Chamisa told a visiting delegation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Harare led by Advocate Leshele Thoahlane that Mnangagwa’s government is unlikely to implement reforms initiated by SADC in 2013.
They include media reforms that would ensure equal coverage of all contesting parties in state-controlled newspapers and radio stations.
The MDC-T acting president, who was accompanied at the meeting by nine members of the party’s National Council, informed the SADC Electoral Advisory Council, that “the Zimbabwe government has not been sincere on its commitment to a free, fair and credible election as it had not yet made public in substantive terms the roadmap to the next election.”
Chamisa further raised issues to do with violence, the abuse of traditional leaders, the opaqueness around the printing and auditing of ballots as well as the auditing of the voters’ roll. “With a few months to go before the next election, there is neither agreement nor clarity on these key electoral matters.”
He implored the SADC observer team to ensure that Zimbabwe complies with the SADC guidelines on the conduct of free and fair elections, adding that only a credible poll would ensure a return of confidence and legitimacy in the country.
“Notwithstanding the clear Constitutional provision and SADC guidelines on the conduct of elections, the government through the Ministry of Justice has refused allow Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to exercise their right to vote.”
The party also told the SADC observer team that Zimbabweans wanted the army to undo their previous statements that they would not salute a president who did not participate in the liberation struggle by making a clear and unequivocal statement that they will this time respect the sovereign will of the people.
Chamisa, who took over the presidential post from the late Morgan Tsvangirai, also expressed concern over the irregularities on the mapping of polling stations, partisan distribution of food handouts in the run-up to the polls and other issues.
On its part, the SADC team assured the party leadership that they will do all they can to ensure that Zimbabwe holds a truly free, fair and credible poll.
State officials were not available for comment.