Apology to the people of Zimbabwe

Why were the observers so eager to declare the elections peaceful, credible and an expression of the will of the people before even one result was announced?

I am one of the SADC lawyers who were refused accreditation to observe elections in Zimbabwe. The decision of the Zimbabwean government was a disappointment for all of us. S o what do we do? We considered going in without visas, but decided against it.

For one, chances a that we will not even get into Harare and none of us had the time for trip to Johannesburg and Harare and back.  Some of the delegation suggested that we go in as independent legal auditors, in other words we get work permits not be arrested as working tourists.

But instead of monitoring the elections – which we could not do without accreditation, we planned to observe the process from a distance and try to establish if the role players abide by the election laws and SADC protocols involved.

By Thursday we were informed by our colleagues in Zimbabwe that we will not get work permits and that it will not be safe to proceed with the mission. It was called off.

Some (including myself) remained on standby hoping for a miracle that will eventually let us in. It never happened. SADC lawyers were turned down.

I was comforted by the pre-election statements of Jose Marcos Barrica, head of the official SADC mission. He assured us that they were in Zimbabwe without preconceived ideas.

Their only purpose was to monitor the elections objectively and without any bias.

Really? Then why were they so eager to declare the elections peaceful, credible and an expression of the will of the people before even one result was announced? To leave is in no doubt of their intentions when they encourage Zimbabweans to accept the results, which they describe as the will of the people? What results? If nothing is on the table to accept, how can the SADC observers be so sure that the will of the people will be triumphant? Angolan sports minister is here to explain.

If Zimbabweans are not going to accept the results, they may end in an Angolan type civil war? But he fails to tell us why Zimbabweans will revolt.

Is it because he expects President Mugabe to rig the elections and drive the MDC people to the streets? Or is he expecting that the heads of police and the defence force will keep the president in power even if he loses? Well, please tell us, Mister Observer. We are unable to read your mind.

Can we get one thing straight here: Will the elections still be a reflection of the will of the people if the election results are falsified during the counting process? By the way, why using the words peaceful and credible? Maybe the team had too much self-respect to use the words that we all wanted to hear: FREE AND FAIR.

After all, this is the primary mandate of observers: To find out if the elections were free and fair.

Will the SADC observers then give us a new evaluation? How about a new one after every suspicious act during the last two days? Please evaluate the meaning of President’s Mugabe’s statement that the early announcement of results will amount to a coup d’état; And the fact that the presidential ballots were not counted in the constituencies; The slow counting and reluctant results; The co-incidence that every MDC victory was matched by a Zanu (PF) victory; The anger of the electoral commission when political observers and the opposition announced a huge victory for the opposition based on exit polls; The fact than no presidential result was announced yet 48 hours after the closing of the ballots.

The list goes on.

The SADC observers criticised the heads of police, the army and prisons for announcing they will only serve under Mugabe, but still believe it did not have an effect on the elections.

Come on, was it not meant to intimidate the voters and the opposition? And what about the fact that the press did not treat the opposition and the ruling party equal? Does the SADC Protocol on the role of the press mean nothing to the leaders who are supposed to represent us? We can go on forever criticizing the declaration of Jose Marcos Barrica.

Suffice to say that the biggest losers will once again be the Zimbabwean people. SADC did not even wait to find out if their expressions were going to be honoured. The jury was out the moment the biggest danger for election rigging started: the counting process.

I, as a citizen of a SADC country, apologise to the people of Zimbabwe. – First published in The Namibian

Post published in: Opinions

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