Remarks by the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Honourable Prof Amon Murwira during a meeting with sadc ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe: August 27, 2023
Good morning Your Excellencies;
1. First, we wish to welcome you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. We wish to express our gratitude to you for your presence at this very important meeting at such short notice.
2. As our Guests, it is only appropriate that you, as SADC Ambassadors hear from us directly and not from third parties so that you can engage your Capitals and the rest of the International Community from a point of knowledge.
3. Let me begin with the fact that we are not only neighbours in one geographic space, but that we are one family.
4. SEOM was invited to observe our elections by dint of our common membership of this family called SADC, whose structures and organs recommended the development of a SADC Elections Observer Mission. We were, therefore, happy to invite SEOM and other Observers, and we are honoured to have them in our midst. SEOM, including all other Observers, were able to freely go around the country, and observe for themselves the peaceful conduct of our elections.
5. We are also aware that besides the SEOM, many SADC States had bilateral Observer Missions which we are confident also went around the country to observe our democracy at work.
6. As impartial Observers with clear and specific mandates, we believe Electoral Observation Missions should operate within their given mandate, which is to observe and recommend areas that need improvement. We believe that constructive and progressive comments on the manner in which we organised and conducted our 2023 Harmonised Elections are healthy and welcome, and fall within the realm of all Observer Missions that we invited. This is why we freely invited Observer Missions in the first place.
Political and Security Environment
7. On August 23, 2023, Zimbabwe held its harmonised elections in a peaceful and calm environment. It goes without saying Zimbabwe enjoyed peace before the election, during the election, and continues to enjoy peace and tranquillity in the post-election period in line with the clarion call of His Excellency the President Cde Dr ED Mnangagwa.
8. We further note the fact that all Missions acknowledged that the harmonised elections were conducted throughout the country in a peaceful and tranquil environment.
Results of the Harmonised Elections
9. Your Excellencies, it is now common knowledge that the full results of the Harmonised Elections were announced last night by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. 10. We take this opportunity to congratulate His Excellency the President, Cde Dr ED Mnangagwa and all the successful parliamentary and local government candidates in the harmonised election.
11. Ultimately the people of Zimbabwe are the winners in this election. We commend them and continue to encourage them to be peaceful in the post-election period.
SADC Electoral Observation Mission’s Report
12. On Friday, August 25, 2023, many Observer Missions to the harmonised elections presented their preliminary findings. The Government of Zimbabwe welcomes progressive preliminary comments and recommendations contained in some of these reports which were made in the spirit of strengthening our institutions and enhancing our democracy in future elections.
13. SADC’s mission is to foster peace and security as the prerequisite for regional integration and development to achieve a common future. However, we are disturbed by some aspects of the SEOM report that deviate from the spirit, intent, and mandate of the SADC Observer Mission as outlined in the SADC Guidelines which Zimbabwe has fully domesticated.
Ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe.
14. It is our understanding that SADC respects the sovereignty of Member States and that SEOM as its subsidiary operates within the confines of the constitutions and laws of Member States, which are passed by sovereign Parliaments. We don’t believe it is in the remit of SEOM to question or interfere in Member States Constitutions, laws, and court decisions passed by their sovereign democratic institutions.
15. We believe SEOM, as our institution, had all avenues open to interrogate, verify, and validate information before it was published, in line with SADC’s cherished values and principles of transparency, impartiality, and non-partisanship. Unfortunately, in some areas cited in the report, this did not happen resulting in the views of a partisan nature being presented in the preliminary report as facts.
16. Your Excellencies, during the 43rd SADC Summit held in Luanda, Angola, Zimbabwe briefed the Heads of State and Government on its State of Preparedness to hold the Harmonised Elections. Summit took note and praised Zimbabwe on the fact that all outstanding issues that had been raised by SEAC in April 2023 had been fully addressed in accordance with Zimbabwe’s Constitution and Electoral Laws. These included the Delimitation of Constituencies, availability of electronic voters roll, and voting status. Summit acknowledged this update and wished Zimbabwe a peaceful election.
17. We therefore find it puzzling that the SEOM considered it appropriate to reopen debate on issues of a purely domestic nature which had been long concluded by the appropriate authorities in Zimbabwe and which Summit in Luanda had noted and adopted.
18. Statements such as the “delimitation was a flawed and unconstitutionally executed process, that Kasukuwere’s disqualification was unconstitutional”, are most unhelpful. The Kasukuwere case was concluded by a Constitutional Court judgment. This also includes unhelpful comments that the so-called “Patriotic Bill” was unconstitutional as it attacks the freedom of speech. Such statements, intentionally or unintentionally, cast aspersions on the integrity of Zimbabwe’s public institutions and create doubt in the populace. Zimbabwe fully respects SADC, its leadership, principles and values. After all, Zimbabwe is a key beneficiary of SADC’s assistance and solidarity and deeply appreciates this.
19. SADC, our great institution has always thrived on consultations and mutual respect for its Member States’ sovereignty. Zimbabwe has full confidence that the errors cited in the SEOM report will be corrected with the view of ensuring the intended beneficial contribution to strengthening the electoral processes of Member States, including Zimbabwe.
Long Live SADC for our common future!
I thank you Excellencies!
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
August 27, 2023