Sadc dispatches advance team of poll observers

HARARE - The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has dispatched an advance team to assess Zimbabwe’s state of preparedness for the forthcoming general elections.

The team, which is headed by chairperson of the regional organisation’s Electoral Advisory Council (Seac) chairperson Leshele Thohlane, will spent seven days in the country interacting with electoral stakeholders, including political parties, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and other players.

“Out of that interaction, we would be able to assess how ready we think the republic is ready to hold elections and then we will make a report that will go to the executive secretary of Sadc who will in turn communicate to the head of summit.

“It is the head of summit who will then commission another mission that would be here to come and do the observation. So, really, this is the purpose and spirit of us coming here. We hope we will be able to spend the whole week interacting with all these stakeholders,” Thohlane said after a meeting with Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Sibusiso Moyo in Harare yesterday.

“We would offer you our assistance and also offer you our technical abilities where needed to cooperate fully with Sadc electoral guidelines,” he added.

Moyo said government would welcome the Sadc technical support.

“Our desire as a government is to deliver a credible, free and fair and transparent election and in our culture as the sub region, we believe that Sadc is the most critical organisation and therefore we want to get as much technical support and technical advice as possible so that we have that ability to deliver,” said Moyo.

Sadc becomes the first organisation to send its observer team to the country, with elections just a few months away.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said his government would invite observers from the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as Western countries like Britain and the United States which could previously not come to observe local polls because of bilateral differences.

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