HARARE – The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) has added to the chorus of condemnation on Zimbabwe’s just-ended election which saw incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa declared winner with a 52,6 percent vote.
In a pastoral statement Thursday, ZCBC-CCJPZ chairman, Right Rev. Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro also called for an audit of the August 23 election saying this is one of the ways that could restore public confidence in the country’s poll process.
The Roman Catholic clergy cited the myriad irregularities that marred the period leading up to the Zimbabwe vote and the subsequent chaos that characterised balloting as some of the factors that brought the poll into “disrepute”.
They listed inordinate balloting delays in some places across the country, inadequate lighting facilities in some polling stations and the disenfranchisement of some voters who failed to find their names on the voter’s roll.
ZCBC said in some areas in the country, there were groups of individuals who mounted so-called exit poll survey desks near the polling stations while displaying logos of a political party.
This was in apparent reference to Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (FAZ), the infamous Zanu PF affiliated group that was brazenly granted a handle in the running of the country’s poll outside the constitution.
In some instances, ZCBC said, there were displays of campaign material on the road leading to polling stations and distribution of campaign regalia to voters within polling stations.
The clerics said in some communities, it was noted that there was distribution of material discouraging people to go and vote.
Added Nyandoro, “In reflection on the above-mentioned challenges, as ZCBC, we encourage ZEC to give an account to the nation about the delays and procurement of voting material and the missing names on the voters’ roll.
“The opening of the polling centres during the night may surely bring to question the preparedness of ZEC for the just-ended election.
“An audit of the whole exercise may give relief to the electorate to whom ZEC is answerable.
“This may help the nation to be satisfied by our electoral process.”
The bishops urged parties aggrieved by the presidential poll results to follow legal channels to register their misgivings.
They also called on spokespersons of political parties to refrain from issuing inflammatory statements in response to concerns raised by opponents and observer groups.
“As ZCBC, we totally discourage hate speech by some members of political parties,” Nyandoro said.
“Actions that restrain and disrupt other political parties’ gathering violate the right to association as enshrined in Section 58 of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20) 2013.
“Let us shun barbaric actions that are contrary to the Christian ethos and national values as stated in the Preamble of our national Constitution.
“Violent actions paint a negative picture of the whole election process.
“We call for respect to our International Mission Observers and let their objective assessment of the elections help us as a nation to correct ourselves and move on.
“Their input should enrich us and act as the light of Christ showing the nation, where corrections are needed.
“We therefore advocate for peace and condemn all forms of actions that may disrupt the post- election peaceful environment.
“The ZCBC continuously calls for peace and tolerance during this post-election period for a continued growth of our beloved nation.”