The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is planning to convene Zimbabwean authorities and representatives from the SADC election observer mission to discuss the preliminary report on Zimbabwe’s recent elections. This comes after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned the planned meeting while speaking to the South African Broadcasting Corporation on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The SADC observer mission’s preliminary report noted several irregularities with Zimbabwe’s election process that resulted in President Emmerson Mnangagwa remaining in power and his Zanu PF party retaining parliamentary control. However, the report indicated the polls did not meet regional and international standards for credible elections.
Ramaphosa, who faced criticism at home and abroad for congratulating Mnangagwa and attending his inauguration, stated the SADC report only pointed out issues rather than declaring the election invalid. He said many nations face challenges during elections, citing the United States’ most recent presidential vote. Ramaphosa added the report outlined areas for improvement rather than branding the Zimbabwean election unfree and unfair.
According to the observer mission, key Zimbabwean institutions failed to act independently and transparently during the contentious election process. Ramaphosa commented the SADC body still needs to discuss the observer mission’s statements, as the preliminary report was not finalized. He welcomed further details to adequately address concerns. Ramaphosa said once SADC receives the full report, members will debate it and hear from Zimbabwe and the observer mission.
The planned meeting aims to have a productive discussion around creating better electoral processes going forward for Zimbabwe.