The chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Angolan President João Lourenço, has dealt a huge blow to Zimbabwe’s opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party following the disputed polls held in August.
The CCC had hoped that SADC would support their request for a re-run, as they denounced the August election results as fraudulent. However, President Lourenço congratulated President Emmerson Mnangagwa on his victory, hailing the polls as a triumph for democracy.
During the SADC extraordinary virtual summit, the Zimbabwe election issue was blocked from being discussed by President Mnangagwa’s government. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava revealed that the Zimbabwe election matter was not included on the summit’s agenda, despite efforts by the SADC secretariat to introduce it. The focus of the summit was instead on the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the deployment of an intervention force.
Connectivity issues disrupted the meeting, leading to its adjournment until Saturday when the heads of state would convene in person in Angola. Minister Shava acknowledged the challenges faced during the virtual summit and the decision to continue discussions in a physical meeting.
Multiple election observer missions, including the SADC team, raised concerns about the credibility of the August polls, citing non-compliance with local, regional, and international guidelines for free and fair elections. The SADC observer team, led by Nevers Mumba of Zambia, identified irregularities such as constituency delimitation issues, delays in releasing the voters’ roll, ballot material delivery delays, and voter intimidation by ZANU-PF affiliates.
ZANU-PF and government officials expressed their displeasure with the report, accusing Nevers Mumba of bias and sympathizing with the CCC. In response, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, who chairs the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security, hosted an extraordinary summit of the Troika members (Zambia, Namibia, and Tanzania) to discuss the Zimbabwe elections. The Troika members accepted the preliminary statement from the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) and criticized the behavior of their counterparts in Harare.
The Platform for Concerned Citizens (PCC) submitted a petition signed by 65,000 professionals and members of civil society to SADC, urging the regional bloc to order a re-run of the fraudulent elections in Zimbabwe. However, ZANU-PF maintains that the elections were conducted freely and fairly, asserting that there is no justification for a re-run. President Mnangagwa was declared the winner with 52% of the vote, while the CCC’s Nelson Chamisa received 44%.