Botswana condemns Zim polls, calls for audit of results

The government of Botswana has called for an audit of the just ended general elections after an 80 member team it dispatched as observers noted irregularities that are out of sync with SADC guildelines.

“It is the perspective of the Government of Botswana that in the context of the preliminary findings of SEOM (SADC Election Observer Mission), as well as the initial report of our own observer team, that there is a need for an independent audit of the just concluded electoral process in Zimbabwe.

“Such an audit will shed light on the conduct of the just ended election and indicate any shortcomings and irregularities that could have affected its result, as well as the way forward. This will ensure that all involved in future elections would be aware of what to look out for and that there is no repeat of the same,” said the government in a statement.

Botswana said there was evidence of “possible shortfalls” in the electoral process that saw Mugabe romping to victory with a 61 percent margin and a landslide for his party.

Among these, it said, was the fact that the voters’ roll was released on July 29, two days before polling, and only in hard copy, while there were questions about the inclusion of undeserving people on the list while others were unnecessarily excluded.

It added that there were also concerns about the integrity of special voting that took place on July 14 and 15.

“There are many other examples that our observers shared with Government that clearly indicate that the process was undermined by these and other irregularities,” said the government in the statement, adding that it was in the process of compiling a report for submission to SADC, the AU and other stakeholders.

“Various incidents and circumstances were revealed that call into question whether the entire electoral process, and thus its final result, can be recognised as having been fair, transparent and credible in the context of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections within the Community,” said the statement.

The Botswana government said its observer team’s findings showed that what transpired before and during the election was an “acceptable standard for free and fair elections in SADC”.

“The Community, SADC, should never create the undesirable precedent of permitting exceptions to its own rules,” it said.

It hoped that the contentious issues regarding the Zimbabwean elections that took place on July 31 would be placed on the agenda of the SADC Heads of State and Government summit to be held in Lilongwe later this month.

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