HARARE - Prominent academic Ibbo Mandaza has said the move by regional and continental observers to lend legitimacy to Zimbabwe’s flawed election shows the bodies have institutionalised failure.
The head of the AU Observer mission and a Nigerian former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, described the election as “fair” and the results “fairly credible” while Bernad Membe, the head of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc)’s observer mission, said although Sadc acknowledged the polls were “free and fair”, it had not decided if it was “fair”.
The United States, European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom have expressed concern over the elections.
The MDC has launched legal action against President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party’s landslide victory in last week’s vote.
Lawyers for outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the defeated Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last Friday challenged the results in the Constitutional Court.
“That the Africans have reproduced their own versions of ‘observer missions’ with the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa is hardly an improvement to celebrate,” Mandaza said in a recent opinion piece.
“It constitutes a mere institutionalisation of failure, a glaring illustration that throughout the continent there is hardly any state or leader with the moral authority to judge or assess another’s election.”
“The revelation, that, like a number of other African states, Zimbabwe has reportedly engaged the services of infamous Israeli company Nikuv should have awakened us to the reality that manipulation of the voters’ roll and outright rigging have become institutionalised.”
Mandaza said Mugabe has rigged the past five elections.
“…in particular focus over the past five of its electoral experiences in 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2013 with the benefit of hindsight, it is not hard to see why all five elections were flawed in favour of incumbency, nor to highlight the extent to which the 2013 one in particular demonstrates the level of impunity, on the part of the State, in manipulating an outcome,” Mandaza said.
He questioned the credibility of Zanu PF’s victory in MDC strongholds and parliamentary representation which was almost even before Zanu PF claimed two thirds majority.
Mandaza made comparison of the presidential votes of 2008 and 2013 and noted there was an average increase of nearly 20 percent for Mugabe and a corresponding decline for Tsvangirai in Bulawayo, Harare, Manicaland, and Masvingo. Mandaza questioned a 12 percent swing in favour of Mugabe in Matabelaland North and South.
“How, given the backdrop of the Gukurahundi atrocities, is this possible in these two provinces in particular?” Mandaza said.
“In general, how can an increase from the reported one of 43 percent in 2008 to 61 percent in 2013 be credible for Mugabe even after accepting that his rival will have lost some of his goals over the past five years?
“And, likewise, the parliamentary seats that were almost even between Zanu PF and MDC in 2008 but, in 2013 a whooping two-thirds majority for Zanu PF?”
Electoral fraud allegations have mounted in the wake of the July 31 polls, with Mugabe yesterday rejecting charges that he stole the vote.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network said on Thursday that more than 750 000 urban voters were missing from the electoral list.
“A total of 99,97 percent of rural voters were registered while only 67,94 percent of urban voters were registered,” said Solomon Zwana, the network’s chairperson.
Zimbabwe’s State election commission has acknowledged some mistakes in the disputed elections, but said they were not enough to sway the win for Tsvangirai.