Good Governance Africa believes the Zimbabwe election needs to be called out for what it is; illegitimate and neither free nor fair.

GGA is dismayed that Namibian President Hage Geingob, along with ANC Secretary-General, Fikile Mbalula, have rushed to congratulate Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his party, ZANU-PF, for their election victory when it is clear from the findings of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission that the process was illegitimate from start to finish.

Citizens Coalition For Change (CCC) leader, Nelson Chamisa, arrives ahead of a press conference in Harare on August 27, 2023. Chamisa challenged the re-election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, officially announced the day before, and claimed victory, following a flawed election whose legality has been called into question. Photo: Zinyange Auntony/AFP

The SADC mission and that of the EU have reported long delays in getting voting materials to polling stations; the banning of rallies; voter intimidation; biased state media coverage in favour of the ruling party, as well as disinformation campaigns in the media and social media, all of which GGA believes has produced an illegitimate outcome.

Zanu-PF’s manipulation of elections, which are a fundamentally democratic tool, for authoritarian ends is both malicious and cruel. It is in that spirit that GGA urges other SADC members to refrain from endorsing the Zimbabwe elections by congratulating Mnangagwa and his government.

GGA also urges SADC and its members to protect its head of mission, Dr Nevers Mumba, against unfounded personal attacks by Zanu-PF members, which we dismiss with the contempt they deserve.

Good Governance Africa stands by its position that no one should expect an election in Zimbabwe to be free, fair, transparent and credible, given that the structural conditions prevailing in the country are fundamentally undemocratic. This has been the case since the unconstitutional coup in 2017 that ushered Mnangagwa to power at the hands of army chief Constantino Chiwenga.

GGA maintains that using an election – a democratic institution – to advance authoritarian ends – is worse than a coup, as it superficially legitimises a fundamentally illegitimate regime. This malicious exploitation of the electorate is fundamentally at odds with the SADC Treaty and the African Union Constitutive Act.

For future elections to be declared genuinely free, fair, and credible, the following structural reforms are required:

  • A return to constitutionalism and the rule of law. The state should submit itself to the constitution and the military should return to barracks.
  • The state itself requires radical reform. The executive must be held to account by an independent legislature and credible judiciary. The judiciary at present cannot be trusted to rule objectively in the case of a disputed election outcome and is also accused of making dubious decisions ahead of the elections.
  • Civil society and the media need to be genuinely free; the current rule by law violates the rule of law by undermining standard democratic freedoms such as expression and association.

GGA urges the South African government and the relevant SADC organs to strongly support these reforms as stringently and clearly as possible. The citizens of Zimbabwe deserve no less.



+ posts