Zuma says ‘No to external interference in Zimbabwe elections’

Former South African President Jacob Zuma

FORMER South Africa President, Jacob Zuma, has said Zimbabwe must be allowed to conduct its forthcoming harmonised elections without external interference.

Other countries, he said, should also not “try to rule from a distance” by dictating how the polls should be conducted. Zuma, who was in the country last week to attend the inaugural carbon credits indaba in Victoria Falls, said neighbouring countries can only give advice but not attempt to enforce and unduly interfere in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.

He said he is looking forward to the August 23 elections.

“It is always difficult to enter into the heart of what happens to a neighbouring country (Zimbabwe) because you cannot try to rule from a distance or have a view that will lead to relations not being good,” Zuma told the media.

“As neighbours, no matter what they feel, they must mind their own business because they cannot interfere (in Zimbabwe). Whatever comments we (as neighbours) have, they have to be very limited because you cannot interfere,” he added.

“We want to ensure that when you are leading a country, it must spread and influence good neighbourliness and good relations.

“Every country looks at elections as a very important event because after a particular period, you reach a point where you say, are we doing very well?

“Also, it gives citizens an opportunity to judge you if you have been doing very well. I am looking forward to the elections.”

Zimbabwe is gearing up for harmonised elections next month and the Government has already invited 46 countries to observe the process.

These include the United States of America, Russia, and the United Kingdom, as well as 17 continental and regional bodies.

This is in fulfilment of President Mnangagwa’s pledge to usher in a transparent, free, and fair election process.

Added to that, all 51 embassies and nine consulates accredited to Zimbabwe have received invitations for accreditation to observe the polls, marking a departure from the previous arrangement where only diplomats accredited on a full-time basis observed the polls.

Several political parties drawn from the region have also been invited.

The authorities say the invitations are in line with the Government’s drive to re-engage the international community and President Mnangagwa’s call for a credible and violence-free election.

The President has, however, said the foreign missions are being invited to “participate as observers, and not as monitors”.

This will be the second consecutive election where the Government has invited observer missions from the US and the EU, which had not observed Zimbabwe’s elections since 2002 before being invited to witness the 2018 polls.

The EU has already confirmed the deployment of an observer mission.

Zuma’s non-interference call dovetails with President Mnangagwa long-standing public stance that foreign observers should not come with preconceived notions about the country’s electoral processes.

“Government will ensure those invited to observe our elections get their invitations in ample time to make that exercise meaningful.

“No foreign power is a stakeholder in Zimbabwe’s electoral processes; this is why foreigners come in by invitation, and participate as observers, and not as monitors,” he wrote in his recent weekly column.

Source – The Chronicle