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MDC-T: SADC Must Withdraw Report Endorsing Zimbabwe Polls

Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday dismissed the Southern African Development Community (SADC) election observer mission report presented by the mission’s chairperson in Harare this week saying it does not reflect the views of the regional bloc on the July 31 national elections.

The MDC-T has written to the SADC secretariat demanding the withdrawal of that report.

MDC-T general secretary Tendai Biti told a news conference at the party’s Harvest House headquarters Thursday that the election report presented by the chairperson of the SADC Election Observer Mission, Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Minister, Benard Membe, does not reflect the views of the regional body.

Biti said some SADC member states including South Africa and others that he refused to name, have confirmed that Membe presented the report without consulting them.

The report released by Membe shows that the July 31 polls were “free, fair and generally credible”.

The former finance minister said the polls failed to meet minimum standards set out in the SADC principles and guidelines governing the conduct of democratic elections.

Biti said the MDC-T is yet to get a copy of the electronic voters’ roll that was used in the July 31 polls. He warned that if SADC does not withdraw Membe’s statement and also fail to deal with the poll dispute in Zimbabwe, the regional body would have set a bad precedence in Africa that elections can be rigged anytime.

He said President Robert Mugabe’s re-election remains illegitimate and SADC risks losing its credibility.

The MDC-T has written to the SADC secretariat demanding the withdrawal of Membe’s report. Biti said he hopes that the Zimbabwean situation would be put on the agenda on the full SADC Summit expected to be held at a date yet to be announced.

Political analyst and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Charity Manyeruke said nothing will change as the regional bloc has already endorsed the poll outcome.

Reached by Studio Seven from Washington DC, South African officials, including President Jacob Zuma’s international relations advisor, Lindiwe Zulu, professed ignorance about the MDC-T’s letter and allegations that Membe had not consulted them.

Although the MDC-T says the elections were fundamentally flawed and do not reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe, Mr. Mugabe and his Zanu PF party said the polls were peaceful, free, fair and credible.
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