JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Ex-minister Saviour Kasukuwere says SADC leaders have been given an opportunity to “start having a serious discussion” over Zimbabwe after President Emmerson Mnangagwa won a controversial re-election.
SADC election observers, in a first, said the election was not credible, drawing fire from the Zimbabwe government which accuses the head of mission, former Zambian vice president Nevers Mumba, of being biased.
The former Zanu PF politburo member was disqualified from running for president as an independent on the basis that he had stayed out of the country for a continuous 18 months, in his self-imposed South African exile.
He says the “sham election” held last Wednesday, and the SADC observer mission’s preliminary report, are an invitation for the regional body to step in and resolve the Zimbabwe crisis which he traces to a 2017 military coup that ousted Robert Mugabe.
“The SADC report is critical in dealing with the oppression that is now embedded in the political system of Zimbabwe, we need to free our people,” Kasukuwere said on Sunday, hours after ZEC announced Mnangagwa had been re-elected with 52.6 percent of the vote.
“It allows SADC, which is affected by the crisis in Zimbabwe, to start having a very serious discussion. We can’t run away from the findings from SADC, the African Union and others who gave us a sick note to say look, this election does not meet the threshold of regional and international democratic election standards.
“Was this election credible? A big no! This means we have to go back to the drawing board, redefine what we want, work hard together and be able to come up with an election in future which everybody will accept. For the next five years, we’re going to be led by an illegitimate regime which is born out of a defective electoral process.”
Calling the observer mission report a “new dawn” and “defining moment,” Kasukuwere appeared to be proposing a SADC mediation process leading to fresh elections.
The observer mission report will be tabled at the SADC troika, the organ on peace, security and stability in the region whose current chair is Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema.
“Once he receives it, the troika chairperson must take the observer mission report to a full SADC summit. This is a defining moment, a new dawn. For the first time SADC has managed to get to grips with the situation,” Kasukuwere said.
“The region is saying these elections are null and void, that’s what the report means. It behoves all of us to say, ‘how do we bring back faith in the region in our institutions and our processes to get our country out of the current quagmire?’”
Kasukuwere said Mnangagwa had a “challenge of arrogance” and a belief that he could act with impunity.
“He feeds on the poverty of our people. The poorer the people get, the more susceptible they become to pressure. People had to vote with their stomachs and fear,” Kasukuwere said of last Wednesday’s vote which was marred by delays in delivering ballot papers and intimidation of voters by a Zanu PF outfit known as the Forever Association of Zimbabwe (FAZ).
The election was held under a “military climate” in which “judges can’t make decisions because they don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” Kasukuwere claimed.
“We witnessed the naked aggression, the naked pursuit of power and looting by Mnangagwa,” said the former youth minister who fears the disputed election will “impact very negatively on our desire to get out of sanctions.”
Apart from making representations to SADC, Kasukuwere advised the Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa, who polled 44 percent of the vote according to ZEC, to “challenge the election in the courts” but added: “I hold very little hope.”