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30 NGOs Press SADC to Table Disputed Zimbabwe Polls

Civil society organisations holding an election crisis meeting in Botswana on Saturday resolved to lobby the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to include Zimbabwe on the agenda in its forthcoming summit in Malawi following the just-ended disputed elections.

The 30 NGOs drawn from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe who held the meeting in Gaborone to discuss the Zimbabwe polls, said the elections were not free and fair.

SADC and the African Union have indicated that the elections were free, an endorsement that is being disputed by the two formations of the MDC, western nations and most NGOs operating in Zimbabwe.

Gladys Hlatswayo of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network told reporters in Botswana that the Zimbabwe election crisis is expected to be tabled by SADC foreign ministers, who are currently preparing for the summit to be held next Saturday.

Some NGO representatives, who attended the Gaborone crisis meeting, told the audience that the Zimbabwe general election faced serious challenges which included intimidation, tampering with the voters roll, unregistered polling stations and the turning away of eligible voters.

Philani Ndebele of the Action Support Centre also told reporters that he was confident that they will be backed by some SADC nations for the Zimbabwe issue to be tabled at the forthcoming summit.

SADC officials were not reachable for comment. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has already filed court papers challenging the outcome of the election.
His bitter rival, President Robert Mugabe, won the election with an overwhelming 61 percent of the total vote.

There are some unconfirmed reports that an Israeli company, Nikuv International, was paid more than $10 million dollars to rig the elections.

The company has not yet responded to these allegations.

In a related development, the MDC formation led by Mr. Tsvangirai will soon hold a meeting to map the way forward over hundreds of people who backed independents in the just-ended general election.

Albert Mhlanga, the party organizing secretary for Bulawayo province, said the party will find “amicable ways of handling this delicate issue of party rebels”, who supported independents after their candidates lost in the primaries.

Mr. Mhlanga said these party supporters are likely to be punished for their actions.