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The Zimbabwe Elections: Hichilema’s reckless attempt to export puppetry

Hakainde Hichilema and his sidekick Nevers Mumba
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WE note with great concern and embarrassment, the dishonorable and subjective activities of Mr Nevers Mumba, who was appointed as the Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission to Zimbabwe by Mr Hakainde Hichilema, in his capacity as the current Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

And so, this statement comes on the heels of reactions making rounds in the country and the SADC region, over the unprocedural, subjective and unprecedented conduct of Mr Hichilema’s appointee – Mr Mumba, who has faulted the 2023 harmonised elections in Zimbabwe.

We have taken time to study the preliminary statements that have been released on this matter. So far, we have scrutinised the statements by the SADC Electoral Observation Mission, the African Union and COMESA Election Observation Mission headed by Mr Goodluck Jonathan – the former president of Nigeria, the European Union Election Observation Mission, the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries and the Commonwealth.

In its observations, the African Union and COMESA Election Observation Mission concluded that: “the 2023 harmonised elections in Zimbabwe were conducted, up to the counting process, in a generally peaceful and transparent manner despite logistical challenges with the availability and distribution of local authority ballot papers in some areas”.

While the SADC Electoral Observation Mission concluded that the pre-election and voting phases, in the 2023 Zimbabwe harmonised elections were peaceful, and calm. Even though, some aspects of the elections, fell short of the requirements of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Electoral Act, and the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2021).

Equally, the EU Election Observer Mission came up with a comparable conclusion that: “while election day was peaceful, the election process fell short of many regional and international standards, including equality, universality, and transparency”.

It is worth mentioning that the African Union -COMESA Election Observation Mission positioned observer teams in all the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe where they specifically observed the opening, voting, closing, and counting process. The mission also visited a total of five hundred and sixty-six (566) polling stations of which 75% (424) were in urban and 25% (142) in rural areas.

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Whereas the SADC Electoral Observation Mission also observed the voting procedure in the 10 provinces across the country, with the deployed monitoring teams only covering 172 polling stations in their areas.

Arising from this, all the Election Observer Missions presented their preliminary recommendations and conclusions, which were more or less similar. However, our interest has been specifically drawn to the SADC Electoral Observation Mission and the EU Election Observer Mission’s preliminary statements, which can be best described as ‘a poorly executed desk job’.

We say so because the foot prints of connivance and deliberate collective intention by the SADC and the EU Election Observer Missions to try and discredit and tarnish the ZANU-PF electoral victory are noticeable.

In fact, in certain passages of the statements, the similarities in language and phraseology vividly brings to light and proves the malice, dishonest and contemptuous intent of the SADC and EU Election Observer Missions. And it doesn’t require much to see that the planners of the two documents were the same. The mischief is indisputably evident. This was a prearranged conclusion and the SADC and EU Election Observer Missions ought to be ashamed of this.

But this doesn’t come as a surprise to us. It doesn’t amaze us at all, that such a first-time diplomatic humiliation for Zambia and SADC is happening under Mr Hichilema’s leadership. In fact, we pin this illogical, recklessly ambitious and ignorant diplomatic miscalculation on Mr Hichilema’s puppetry and unbridled desire to impress transnational corporations and his Western imperialist masters.

We refuse to accept that Mr Mumba made this highly irresponsible diplomatic blunder alone; without consulting Mr Hichilema, who assigned him to this sensitive task. It must be known that the SADC Election Observer Mission is a product of member states and can never be controlled by an individual or head of delegation.

That said, we wonder if at all, Mr Mumba even had any extensive prior consultations with other members of his mission or whether these members where afforded an opportunity to report back to their respective countries or the SADC secretariat, before presenting the preliminary statement with such a prearranged conclusion.

The truth is, this particular SADC Election Observer Mission has been hijacked by Western imperialists, transnational corporations and Mr Hichilema’s other foreign collaborators and backers. They thought they could use their puppet – Mr Hichilema’s current position in SADC to install another puppet regime in Zimbabwe like they did in Zambia in 2021 but they have suffered a humiliating defeat.

Nonetheless, we would like to warn Mr Hichilema that his unguarded desire to export puppetry in the region will soon backfire very badly. Mr Hichilema must learn to weigh himself to his true worth. Let him not exaggerate his sophistication and diplomatic/political shrewdness because the reality is that, Mr Hichilema is still a learner in this game. He must also not project his personal interests and undying allegiances to the imperialist world and transnational corporations on the affairs of the region and Zambia in particular.

There is urgent need for Mr Hichilema to tame his illusions, arrogance, ignorance and lies before Zambia is completely isolated on the continent owing to his unrelenting desire to prostitute around clear matters of foreign policy and negligent association with imperialist governments and transnational corporations.

Enough of diplomatic blunders and embarrassments!

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party [Zambia]