Regional observers declare Zimbabwe election free and fair

Wednesday August 1 2018

Zimbabwe elections

Voters queue at a polling station in the popular Mbare district of Harare, on July 30, 2018 during Zimbabwe General Elections. Election observer missions in the country say the voting process was adhered to regional and international standards. AFP PHOTO | MARCO LONGARI 

By KITSEPILE NYATHI
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Regional observer missions have endorsed Zimbabwe’s landmark elections saying they were orderly and within the law.

The African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Commonwealth observers said on Wednesday that the voting process was largely free and fair.

The Comesa mission said the election was “peaceful, transparent and adhered to regional and international standards.”

The observers added that the outcome would reflect the will of the people and “represents a turning point for Zimbabwe.”

According to partial results released on Wednesday by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the ruling party Zanu-PF is leading having won majority of the seats in parliament.

Zanu-PF has so far clinched 109 seats against 41 for the opposition MDC Alliance.

Only one independent candidate has won a parliamentary seat with results from 58 constituencies yet to be announced.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's Zanu-PF is expected to secure a landslide victory in parliament if it wins 31 more seats to get a two-thirds majority.

While presidential results are yet to be announced, both Mr Mnangagwa and his rival MDC's Nelson Chamisa have claimed victory.

Mr Chamisa’s party alleges that the elections are being rigged in favour of Zanu-PF, a claim ZEC denies.

The Zimbabwean civil society groups under the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition claims the election is not free and fair.

“While we appreciate that the electoral environment was relatively peaceful and a huge turnout at polling stations, we reiterate that electoral processes must always reflect and uphold the true will of the citizens,” the coalition said on Wednesday.

“Zimbabwe’s only option is to embrace open transparent and democratic governance as a gateway to the restoration of our constitutional order.”

The group cites voter intimidation, vote buying, unfair media coverage, delayed voters’ roll before polling, increase in number of assisted voters, and undesignated polling stations as some of the reasons for rigged elections.

Zimbabwe went to the ballot on July 30, the first poll since long-time ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted from power by last November.

ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba said on Tuesday that the final presidential results were due on Saturday.

A run-off vote is scheduled for September 8 if no presidential candidate wins by at least 50 per cent.