JOHANNESBURG – Despite ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula championing Zimbabwe’s electoral results, the party has yet to formulate its official position.
According to independent observers, though, the elections were flawed and rife with “intimidation”.
On Monday, ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri told News24 the party had sent senior national executive committee (NEC) members to Zimbabwe to observe the polls.
Bhengu-Motsiri said the ANC was “thoroughly” going through the two official reports from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which denounced Zimbabwe for, among other things, violating its Constitution by “restricting” access to the voters’ roll, including “intimidation” and “a severe restriction of the freedom of expression”.
At the weekend, Mbalula showed his support for Zanu-PF in a series of social media posts, including sharing pictures of the Zimbabwean ruling party’s rally, calling the gathering a “sea of people”, and hailing the re-election of Emmerson Mnangagwa as president, writing “viva President Emmerson Mnangagwa”.
Mbalula did not respond to requests for comment.
On Sunday, though, after a backlash because of his posts, he backtracked.
“I have not pronounced on Zim elections outcome. After the Zim electoral commission pronounced President Emmerson I said “viva” that’s all,” wrote Mbalula on X (formerly Twitter).
Bhengu-Motsiri said the ANC was waiting for reports from its NEC members who were sent as observers to Zimbabwe. The delegation included Lindiwe Zulu, of the party’s international relations subcommittee, and Polly Boshielo, who chairs the peace and stability committee.
“We are looking at their reports today (Monday) and will release a very comprehensive statement. We have a meeting this afternoon; we don’t issue statements at night. We will probably release the statement in the morning (Tuesday),” she added.
The SADC, however, which said it sent 68 observers to Zimbabwe, painted a picture of the elections being riddled with intimidation from a “quasi-security intelligence organisation”, called Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ).
“Our observers confirmed the existence of this group as its officials or agents were easily identifiable at some polling stations as they were dressed in regalia emblazoned with the FAZ name and were accredited local observers.
“These and other unidentified persons, who were not polling officials, were also observed taking down the voters’ names before they cast their votes. In some areas, voters were intimidated by the actions of these individuals,” reads the SADC’s report.
It added that some polling stations opened “more than 12 hours after the stipulated time”, saying the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission blamed the “unavailability of ballot papers” for “this unprecedented development”.
This challenge, however, was specific to Harare and Bulawayo.
Due to the delays, some voters left without casting their votes, while others remained in lengthy queues throughout the day and night.
At 50% of the polling stations, people with disabilities, the elderly, and pregnant women were not given priority to vote,” the SADC found.
“In 3% of polling stations observed, indelible ink was not checked on the voters before allowing them to cast their vote.”
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa accentuated the SADC’s views.
His party – Citizens Coalition for Change – lost narrowly to Zanu-PF.
Chamisa said Mnangagwa had launched a “coup” in the elections, as he had done when former president Robert Mugabe was ousted by the military in 2017.
“You can’t survive these too many times. This time, no further… we have drawn a line in the sand,” said Chamisa after Mnangagwa was declared the winner.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, at a press briefing, EFF leader Julius Malema said the elections were not “free and fair, but his party welcomed the fact that there was an absence of violence, as elections in Zimbabwe are ordinarily characterised by violence”. – News24