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Coordinators Note: Another disputed election, where to Zimbabwe?

This edition comes after Zimbabwe’s watershed elections whose final outcome was decided by the Constitutional Court after a huge dispute over its credibility. Since the last edition, we had reported that the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Office had deployed its own observer mission in Zimbabwe a few days before the elections to get a first-hand experience of the electoral processes.

The observer team was drawn solidarity partners across the SADC region and they had an opportunity to witness the entire voting process in Zimbabwe.

The observer mission noted some improvements from the previous elections, but cited some irregularities and concluded that the elections missed the ingredients of a free, fair and credible election.

While the elections were generally peaceful, we noted with concern the deployment of members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) who fired live ammunition resulting in the deaths of six innocent civilians.

Although, this incident happened in the full glare of the public, the government of Zimbabwe seemingly shifted the blame on the protesters, while failing to take responsibility for the actions of the security forces. It is in this vein that the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the events of this fateful day. We are therefore disappointed by the motive especially as espoused in the commission’s terms of reference which is seemingly a witch hunt targeted at the opposition which already has been accused of causing the chaos.

The commission ‘s composition is problematic, in the sense that it contains compromised individuals for example Charity Manyeruke, a serving ZANU PF Mashonaland East Provincial member and Professor Madhuku, a losing presidential candidate, who has given interviews to the state media blaming the MDC Alliance for starting the violence.

We have always been sceptical about such commissions to deal with such delicate matters as they have acted impartially with heavy influence from the appointing authorities. To us, we view this commission as an international relations stunt in a desperate bid for ‘winning’ legitimacy by Mnangagwa.

The person responsible for the deployment of soldiers must account for the deaths of innocent civilians.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Office also participated in this year’s edition of the SADC Peoples Summit held in Namibia, Windhoek from the 16th to the 17th of August 2018. CiZC facilitated the Democracy, Governance and Human Rights cluster, and we presented our position paper that mainly focused on the Zimbabwe elections and the way forward. The cluster also had robust debates about the situation in other SADC countries namely, Lesotho, Swaziland in the view of finding solidarity strategies on the struggles being fought in those respective countries

. The summit was held under the theme: “Reclaiming SADC for social, economic and political justice, free movement and use of natural resources for youth employment, affordable land and housing for all.”

The CiZC Regional office will continue working with solidarity movements across the SADC region until a truly democratic dispensation is achieved in Zimbabwe. We do believe that Zimbabwe has regressed backwards in as far as the human rights situation is concerned, the legitimacy of president Mnangagwa shall continue being a talking point until adequate reforms in the political arena are achieved. We are firmly convinced that the military is now heavily embedded in civilian politics in Zimbabwe.

The country’s judiciary, under the current constitution, is still compromised as evidenced by the shambolic constitutional court ruling which failed the litmus test under any democratic dispensation.

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