HARARE - Zimbabwe's Parliament and central government has sent observers to oversee South Africa’s national and provincial elections on May 7, officials confirmed.
Parliamentarians and senior government officials constitute the observer mission following an invitation from the government of South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s head of standing rules and orders committee Zanu PF MP Daniel Shumba is leading the observer mission.
The 18-member mission is operating under the auspices of the Sadc mission. The forthcoming elections are a significant milestone for South Africa.
They mark the 20th anniversary of the country’s first democratic elections, and are the first elections after the passing of former president Nelson Mandela.
The ruling ANC under President Jacob Zuma has seen its star fade since the heady days of the liberation struggle against white domination and the one term in office served by Mandela, who devoted his formidable charisma and charm to the cause of racial reconciliation.
Zuma himself is in the spotlight because of security renovations worth over $20 million that were made on his private rural homestead which included a chicken run and swimming pool.
South Africa’s top anti-graft watchdog, the public protector, said in a report last month that Zuma should pay back some of the money spent on the upgrade.
Exactly 20 years ago, South Africans of all races voted in the country’s first democratic election, bringing the ANC to power and making Mandela the country’s first black president.
Those polls capped years of nail-biting political negotiations and civil strife which pushed South Africa to the edge of an all-out racial war.
The fact that the election was held at all was widely hailed as a miracle.
Bringing about the end of apartheid, the 1994 election also ushered in two unbroken decades of ANC rule which is almost certain to be extended when South Africans vote in the country’s fifth all-race general election.
The Zimbabwe mission will observe the election process and determine whether the polls have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which the country has committed itself.
Where appropriate, it will make recommendations to the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa for further improvement, said a statement issued by the Sadc secretariat.