SADC says Zanu (PF) might rule for 100 years

Regional power broker SADC today declared Zimbabwe’s July 31 election credible but came short on the issue of fairness.

Presenting the regional grouping’s final report in Harare, Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Minister, Bernard Membe, said President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF would rule for the next century if targeted sanctions are not removed.

“On the issue of sanctions I will speak from the bottom of my heart. The opposition, if they are in this conference room, they should begin working with Zanu (PF) if they are entertaining any thoughts of taking power in 2018.

“If they do not, this party (Zanu PF) will rule for another 100 years. I am giving them advice to take power. Sanctions will never work as a tool to win elections; they have never worked,” Membe said struggling to hold back laughter.

He also called for the closure of exiled radio station and in typical Zimbabwean government language called them “pirate radio stations”.

“In trying to gauge the fairness of this election, the Sadc Election Observer Mission (SEOM) focused its attention among others on the state media, pirate radio stations and the voters roll.

“SEOM noted the media (pirate and state) were highly polarised and for the most part biased along political party lines. In this regard SEOM received accusations and counter accusations from contesting parties and saw merit in them,” the SADC report said.

The SEOM head said SADC would order the closure of pirate stations operating within the region and send emissaries to foreign governments hosting “hostile” media broadcasting into Zimbabwe.

“To this end SEOM recommends that ZEC implements the letter and spirit of Chapter 12 part 5, section 248 of the constitution on media reform to be read together with the electoral act section 160 (E) to 160 (H) ‘public broadcasters shall afford all political parties and independent candidates contesting in an election such free access to their broadcasting service as may be prescribed,’ SEOM recommends that the pirate media should end their operations forthwith,” he said.

Membe said the elections, while being free, peaceful and generally credible, failed to pass as fair.

“Our observers on the ground reported complaints related to the delay in issuing the voters roll on time and even in those areas where the roll was issued a few days before, people had no access to it until voting day,” said Membe.

On the credibility of the elections, Sadc said while it also agreed with reservations from other stakeholders, “there were many elements that when put together elevated the election to a credible status.”

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