MDC worry of SA invisible hand in Zimbabwean polls

Former Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (L) gestures as South Africa's President Jacob Zuma looks on

HARARE – The MDC has cast doubts on new Sadc chairman Jacob Zuma’s ability to act as the region’s mediator if a dispute erupts in next year’s eagerly-anticipated elections.

Zuma’s involvement may be needed in Zimbabwe to break a feared election impasse if the poll is disputed after assuming the rotating chairmanship of the 15-nation Sadc on Saturday.

The MDC claimed the South African president was not firm on violence after he granted diplomatic immunity to First Lady Grace Mugabe which enabled her to return to Harare and avoid prosecution for the alleged assault of a 20-year-old model, Gabriella Engels.

“President  …Zuma … on Saturday, 19 August 2017 assumed the chairmanship of Sadc, the very day his government granted Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity after the assault of Gabriella Engels.

“What guarantee do we have that Sadc will take a strong position if violence erupts in next year’s watershed elections?” the MDC asked rhetorically in a statement.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said elections in Zimbabwe have frequently been marred by serious electoral irregularities such as intimidation of voters and blatant vote rigging as was the case in the July 2013 harmonised elections.

“We would like to call upon Sadc to do whatever is within its power to ensure that next year’s elections in Zimbabwe be held in a free and fair environment that will guarantee a credible outcome,” Gutu said.