Zimbabwe elections declared illegitimate, political leaders urged to engage in dialogue

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The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), an interdenominational body representing various Christian faiths in the country, has issued a statement in response to the national elections held in August. While noting the polls proceeded relatively peacefully, the ZCC expressed deep concern over serious flaws that marred the electoral process.

In its statement, the Council acknowledged the elections were an important exercise in democracy for Zimbabwe. However, significant problems were raised regarding transparency and fairness. The ZCC represents Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Salvation Army congregations across the nation.

Official results declared incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner, with 52.6% of the vote compared to 44% for opposition candidate Nelson Chamisa. However, voter oversight groups like the Southern Africa Development Community, African Union and Commonwealth observers voiced worries that the election fell short of credible standards.

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Chamisa has disputed the results. He is demanding fresh elections to resolve perceived flaws.

The ZCC raised concerns about the late delivery of ballot papers to opposition strongholds and the activities of the Forever Association of Zimbabwe, a group affiliated with the ruling Zanu PF party. The association allegedly conducted “exit poll surveys” near polling stations, leading to voter intimidation and the collection of voters’ personal details.

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The churches also highlighted various challenges faced by voters, including coercion, missing names in the voters’ roll, electoral disinformation, and intimidation, particularly in rural areas. They called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to ensure transparency by releasing verifiable and auditable results, as mandated by law. They emphasized that transparent election results enhance people’s trust and confidence in elected leaders and are crucial for fostering unity and peace in the country.

In light of these substantial concerns, the ZCC is calling on all parties to participate in meaningful dialogue. The churches believe sincere and inclusive discussions are urgently needed to resolve outstanding questions and restore trust in democratic processes going forward. With tensions remaining high post-election, the Council is encouraging calm and reconciliation between political rivals.

As Zimbabwe’s faith communities seek to guide the nation during this difficult period, their appeal for open talks echoes hopes of many citizens that a fair resolution can emerge through non-violent means. How leaders choose to respond will impact the country’s prospects for a more just and participatory system of governance.


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