THE Forever Association Zimbabwe (FAZ) has condemned Dr Nevers Mumba’s preliminary Sadc election observer report saying the accusations that it has been intimidating people are a baseless fallacy meant to discredit the country’s harmonised elections.
Presenting the preliminary Sadc election observer mission report last Friday, Dr Mumba, a former Zambian Vice-President to the late Levi Mwanawasa accused FAZ of intimidating voters, a claim the organisation said was devoid of truth.
FAZ president Cde Kudakwashe Munsaka told Sunday News that his organisation was dismayed by the unprofessional and biased report from observer missions, as witnessed by Dr Mumba’s report.
“We have noted with concern the issues that have been raised by Dr Mumba in his Sadc report in which they cited FAZ as an entity that has been causing havoc in elections and intimidating voters. As FAZ we are saying we are actually surprised with the accusations. We never intimidated voters for starters, in fact, we are concerned that organisations or political parties are now hiding their failures using FAZ,” said Cde Munsaka.
He said they were open for engagement by election observer missions before they produce their reports implicating the organisation. Cde Munsaka said some of the observer reports were a reflection of preconceived notions by the Western embassies sympathetic to Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
“Sadc never engaged us as FAZ, they were quiet, the European Union Observer Mission called for a meeting with me but they never came for that particular meeting. Sadc never engaged us and the next thing we hear through the media that FAZ has been cited but they never cared to hear our side of the story. We believe they did not craft the report that they presented, that report came from western embassies together with CCC. They had already concluded so they did not see the need to consult us,” said Cde Munsaka.
He said FAZ had become a convenient scapegoat for failing politicians and the trend started when some candidates lost elections in Zanu-PF primary elections. Cde Munsaka said CCC also blamed FAZ for its double fielding of candidates.
He said while FAZ operates within the same framework as other civil organisations, it was sh0cking that no other organisation which had been involved in electoral processes have been cited in the observer reports.
“Everyone is conveniently blaming FAZ whenever they want to blame someone. We are actually surprised why the report which they wrote did not include other civil organisations like the Election Resource Centre (ERC) or Pachedu or all those Western-funded NGOs who are operating the same way we are. They never cited them regardless of the fact that some have been arrested for violating the electoral rules but they jump in to cite FAZ as the one which has been violating the electoral laws,” he said.
Cde Munsaka said setting up of the FAZ desk 300 metres away from polling stations was in line with electoral best practices, adding that it was sinister that Dr Mumba among other observers pretended to be ignorant of that public knowledge.
“In relation to setting up desks, we managed to set our desks at every polling station, 300 metres away from the polling station which is legal. If you go to South Africa for example, it is 100m away from the polling station. Not only in South Africa, go to Mozambique, you’ll find Frelimo etc, go to Zambia, Namibia it is a global standard practice across the world. Now Zimbabwe has done it, FAZ has set the desk and they are now making noise saying we are intimidating voters. Which voters are we intimidating by setting up desks and capturing data.”
He said CCC had also been making noise about FAZ as a way of discrediting the electoral processes.
Cde Munsaka said claims that FAZ was colluding with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) were unfounded and should not be dignified. He said it was illogical to claim that FAZ was rigging elections on behalf of Zanu-PF saying he lost the Binga North Constituency National Assembly seat to Mr Prince Dubeko Sibanda of CCC.
“One would say, if we had rigged these elections, why didn’t I win. I lost as a candidate, I’m the FAZ president and I control the machinery of FAZ. Why would we rig for other people and fail to rig for myself. We are not happy with the continued linking of FAZ to Government and any other State entity.
We are not linked to Government, we are a private organisation that is registered as a Trust. We are a private limited organisation, we have no association with Government. We also fund our operations.”
— Sunday News