General Elections in Zimbabwe: 31 July 2013
AU COMMISSION APPEALS FOR CONTINUED PEACE IN RUN UP TO AND AFTERMATH OF ZIMBABWE’S ELECTIONS: RELEASES FINDINGS OF LONG TERM OBSERVER MISSION
Harare, Zimbabwe 26 July 2013- The African Union Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana DIamini Zuma has expressed appreciation for the peace that has prevailed in the run up to Zimbabwe’s harmonized elections to be held on July 31st, and pleaded with every Zimbabwean to keep the peace until the end. She also appealed to the leaders to play a pivotal role “as they have been doing”, to keep stressing to their supporters that peace is critical so that Zimbabweans freely express their will on the election day.
Addressing a press conference on 26 July in Harare, she expressed the hope that the peaceful environment will obtain till the end. However she highlighted a number of concerns that had been brought up by the candidates in the course of her visit such as the issue of the special vote, lack of access to the media and the fact that some of the people were not registered, among others.
The Chairperson urged both candidates and the electorate to be patient until the results come out, adding that the results should be received in the knowledge that those who will have won will have done so for Zimbabwe and that those who will have lost will still be needed by their country.
To the victors she advised that “Those who win must handle their victory in a manner that makes all Zimbabwean people feel that they are going to be looked after”. She also urged those who are securing the elections to do it in the most professional and impartial way. However, she urged any candidates who may wish to challenge the results, to use the normal legal channels and not resort to the streets as “the streets will cause tension and violence”.
The Chairperson was on a three day visit to Zimbabwe to touch base with the 70 strong African Union Election Observer Mission, the presidential candidates and to discuss with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Addressing the press conference, the Chairperson said the AU sends long term observers not just to observe but also to be part of the process to make the election a success because they are able to talk to the responsible authorities and make sure problems are resolved. “It is part of our responsibility to assist countries to have successful elections”, she said.
During the press briefing, Dr Dlamini Zuma commended the fact that the registration has been quite high standing at 93 percent . “If all goes according to the plan they (ZEC) have given us, we are satisfied. But we will see on the day”.
The Chairperson, who has met with the presidential candidates i.e. Mr Kisinoti Mukwazhe from Zimbabwe Development Party (ZDP), Prime Minister Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai from the Movement for Democratic Change T (MDC T), President Mugabe from the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU P) and had a telephone conversation with Mr Welshman Ncube of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) reported that the presidential candidates are happy with the fact that everything has been peaceful up to now. She also met Ms Emilia Mukaratirwa, Vice President of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union the ZEC, the Minister of Justice Mr. Patrick Chinamasa, Deputy Prime Minister Mr Arthur Mutambara.
Observations of the AU Long Term Observer Mission
At the press conference the AU Commissioner of Political Affairs and Deputy Head of the AU Election Observer Mission Dr Aisha Abdullahi, also presented the findings of the AU Long Term Observer Mission, which has been in the country since the 15th of June.
She noted the following key observations to date:
• In general, the AU LTOs observed a largely peaceful and calm political environment.
• The enactment of the new Constitution in May 2013 has greatly improved the political climate since the last election in 2008.
• The institutionalization of an independent electoral management body, which is in line with AU principles for democratic elections, has engendered confidence in the integrity and professionalism of ZEC to manage credible elections.
• While acknowledging the increased number of registered voters from 5.2 million to 6.4 million, the LTO Mission noted that thousands more were unable to register due to the limited timeframe to regularize their citizenship status and insufficient voter education.
• From the Mission's observation of the Special Vote, it has been generally noted that the process was characterised by logistical and management challenges, which denied several thousand applicants the opportunity to cast their ballots on the allotted days.
• The lack of adequate space for participation of civil society in the electoral process, particularly in voter education exercise despite the existence of legislative provisions that enables ZEC and other Civil Society Organisations to conduct voter education. The Mission is of the view that the registration process could have benefitted from greater cross-sectoral collaboration between ZEC and civil society.
• The Mission notes the polarisation of the media and the concerns by stakeholders about certain provisions of the Access to Information and Protection Act (AIPPA), the Interception of Communication Act, the Criminal Law and Codification Act, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Broadcasting Services Act, and their impact on communication freedoms.
Further, she highlighted the following for the remainder of the election process:
• Political stakeholders should continue to communicate messages of peace and non-violence to sustain the reigning peaceful political environment.
• Given the introduction of Electoral Court for the resolution of election-related disputes, the African Union Commission urges all political stakeholders to abide by the established mechanism should electoral dispute arise.
The AU Mission will remain in Zimbabwe until after the announcement of the results, under the leadership of former Nigerian President Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo.