Chatham House apologises for Zim poll date Twitter gaffe

HARARE - Chatham House apologised yesterday for a tweet that suggested Zimbabwe will hold election on July 18, quoting remarks by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo in a presentation at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in the United Kingdom.

The tweet, published on the official Chatham House account on Monday night, stirred up tension in Zimbabwe.

The tweet quoted Moyo saying: “Elections on July 18 2018 will reaffirm our commitment to openness and transparency.

“The Zimbabwe government will apply rules and standards for holding free and fair elections in a peaceful, violence free environment. We welcome international observers.”

The post sparked a backlash on Twitter from the opposition who said proclamation of election dates were the exclusive province of the President, and back home, neither President Emmerson Mnangagwa nor the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had made such an announcement. Moyo addressed the Royal Institute of International Affairs speaking on Zimbabwe’s international re-engagement and socio-economic recovery.

After the uproar, Chatham House said that the tweet was a mistake and apologised for the gaffe.

“Clarification: HE Sibusiso Moyo spoke of elections in July 2018, with no specific date – the below date was tweeted in error. Watch full video of the minister’s speech here,” Chatham House tweeted with a link to the video.

The London-based organisation, however, still received flake from former Zanu PF politburo member and exiled former minister Jonathan Moyo.

“You are not fooling anyone by claiming to be clarifying your error when you should be correcting it. Still it’s wrong & not his brief for SB Moyo to say elections are in July. At law elections should be between 21 July and 22 August. The Exact date is proclaimed by President in the government gazette.”

Southern Africa director with the Africa Division of the New York-based Human Rights Watch Dewa Mavhinga said: ‏”Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister SB Moyo has reportedly announced in London that national elections will be on 18 July, 2018 @edmnangagwa @263Chat @kubatana Back home in Zimbabwe neither president Mnangagwa nor @ZECzim made such announcement,” he wrote.

The retired army Lieutenant-General however, received the backing of Zanu PF UK representative Nick Mangwana and social commentator Petina Gappah.

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