Free and fair Zimbabwean elections are in South Africa’s best interests

Issued by Emma Louise Powell MP – DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation
16 Jul 2023 in News

Note to Editors: Find attached a voicenote from the DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Emma Louise Powell MP

Zimbabweans are now due to elect a government of their choice on 23 August 2023. To date, the process has been marred by the banning of opposition party rallies, violence against activists, detention without trial of opposition politicians and bias from the captured Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The DA will be writing to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, requesting the early deployment of election observers to ensure greater scrutiny of electoral processes in terms of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. The SADC framework allows for early deployment and this must be done immediately.

Reports indicate that the leading opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has had its campaign rallies arbitrarily banned. Opposition politician, Job Sikhala, has been detained without trial for more than a year and denied his right to apply for bail. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been captured by Zanu-PF, further dimming the prospects of a free and fair election.

It is clear that none of the previous election recommendations made by Southern African Development Community (SADC) or African Union (AU) observers have yet been implemented. These touched on unfair coverage of opposition by state media, transparency, and a timeous disclosure of the voters’ roll. Less than two months before the election, contestants still do not have access to the full voters roll.

The recent introduction of legislation such as The Patriotic Act (signed into law last week) now curbs the right of Zimbabweans to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Amendment Bill, awaiting the president’s signature, prohibits political lobbying from non-government organizations, which will render oversight of the Executive by civil society almost impossible.

ANC Secretary General, Fikile Mbalula recently launched an unprovoked attack on the leading opposition leader – Nelson Chamisa, accusing him of being a “puppet of the West”. Mbalula’s comments weaken South Africa’s credibility as a potential mediator in the event of a post-election dispute. As long as the ANC government continues to protect the ZANU-PF regime, South Africa will keep paying a heavy price with the influx of economic refugees.

For two decades now, South Africa has been a net recipient of economic refugees from Zimbabwe fleeing a collapsed economy and health system. This has brought undue strain on our domestic resources and inflamed tensions within local communities.