SADC Electoral Observation Mission Releases Preliminary Statement on Zimbabwe’s 2023 Harmonized Elections

August 25, 2023 – Dr. Nevers Mumba, the former Vice President of the Republic of Zambia and Head of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), delivered a preliminary statement on the conduct of the 2023 Harmonized Elections in the Republic of Zimbabwe. The statement, based on thorough observations and assessments, highlighted both positive aspects and areas of concern during the pre-election period and the voting days held on August 23-24, 2023.

Dr. Mumba began by commending the people of Zimbabwe for maintaining a generally calm and peaceful political environment during the pre-election phase and the voting period. He emphasized that the elections were observed in accordance with the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2021) and the relevant laws of Zimbabwe.

The statement covered a range of topics, including the political and security environment, constitutional and legal frameworks, election management, nomination of candidates, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, participation of women, independence of the judiciary, and more. Dr. Mumba highlighted key findings and concerns within each of these categories.

He addressed issues related to the voters’ roll, access to information, and the delays in opening polling stations in certain provinces. The statement also discussed concerns about the participation of women as candidates, the independence of the judiciary, alleged intimidation of voters, and the coverage of elections by state-owned media.

Dr. Mumba provided detailed observations about the voting process on election days. This included remarks about the calm environment at polling stations, concerns over the late arrival of ballot papers, police presence, opening times, and challenges faced by voters, particularly those with disabilities. He also mentioned incidents of alleged voter intimidation by a group called Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ).

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Mumba acknowledged the peaceful environment maintained during the election period and called on all political parties and stakeholders to respect the legal procedures and channels in case of any electoral disputes. He urged transparency and the implementation of recommended improvements to enhance the democratic electoral process in Zimbabwe.

Dr. Mumba stated that the final SEOM report will be released after the validation and proclamation of final results and will be shared with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and all stakeholders. He emphasized the continued presence of long-term observers and the intention of the SEAC to conduct a post-election review.

The SADC Electoral Observation Mission’s preliminary statement underlined the significance of a transparent, inclusive, and fair electoral process, emphasizing the importance of upholding democratic values and principles within the region.

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