FORMER Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano says he has “never heard of” a foreign election observer mission criticising a sovereign country’s legislative framework during polls observation.
He was speaking after a briefing with President Mnangagwa at State House in Harare yesterday.
Head of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM) Dr Nevers Mumba on Friday presented a preliminary statement from the bloc, which has since been roundly condemned as biased since it went beyond the mission’s mandate.
In his statement, Dr Mumba — a former vice president of Zambia under then-president Levi Mwanawasa – attacked the Judiciary, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the amended Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
“This did not happen in my country,” said President Chissano.
“I was not present in all elections in Southern Africa . . . maybe it happened somewhere else (but), I never heard of it.”
The former Mozambican leader, who is the high-level facilitator of the structured dialogue platform on Zimbabwe arrears clearance and debt resolution programme, said he had briefed President Mnangagwa on his observation of last week’s elections.
“I met the President today; I told him what people told me, which may sound like criticism; demanding for improvement of the system and I said all this now is for the forthcoming elections,” he added.
“The President took note of everything, he did not neglect anything.
“He said he will study this and see how this can be helpful for the improvement of our governance.
“He said so because I am the facilitator of the clearance of debt and arrears resolution. But on the governance side, we are talking a language that will facilitate this process.”
He also congratulated Zimbabweans for holding peaceful elections.
“As we were preparing for elections, we were praying for peace, tranquillity and order, and this we have seen . . . we have seen the order and patience of Zimbabweans.
“The other day we prayed for peace on the eve of the elections and this prevailed.
“Up to today, I have not heard of any problems, so I appeal that this continues forever.”
In a separate interview following the meeting, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said Dr Mumba’s preliminary findings were not final.
“This is just a preliminary report and we took it as an opinion of the head of mission and not the actual report by the entire observer mission,” he said.
“We hope that when they finally do the final report, it will reflect the manner in which elections were held: the very peaceful environment, the pre-election period and the peaceful election day.”
Despite ZEC encountering logistical challenges with delivery of ballot papers to a few wards in some provinces, he said, election day proceeded without much incident.
“If you were in Harare, you noticed that even though ballots were late, the people remained calm and we did not have any instances of violence.
“His Excellency, the President, intervened and made sure that everyone voted.”
Minister Ziyambi said Government expects SADC to amend Dr Mumba’s statement before the final report is released.
SADC rules state that a preliminary report on an election is presented to the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation for review of accuracy and objectivity.
The Troika then discusses the preliminary report and makes recommendations for any changes by the election observer mission, which then revises the report in accordance with the Troika’s recommendations before the final report is published.
Added Minister Ziyambi: “We believe that when the final report is produced and presented to ZEC, they will take into consideration all the issues and that they will be very objective.
“It will be a report that indicates exactly what transpired without borrowing scripts from participants.”
Addressing the media on Friday, Minister Ziyambi hinted that some members of Dr Mumba’s mission had disowned the statement presented on Friday.
“We believe that it was the position of one person and not the entire delegation.
“I had the privilege of having conversations with some of the delegates — by the way, they requested to attend some of our rallies during the campaign — we had conversations with some of them, and their thinking is totally divorced from that of the head of mission.
“We will wait for the final report, which we hope the other members of the delegation will put the head of mission to task to say that let’s do this professionally without deviating from our mandate.”
— Sunday Mail