AU team in Zimbabwe for pre-election assessment for the July 31 elections

July 25, 2013

Africa, International

AU team in Zimbabwe for pre-election assessment


African Union (AU) Commission Chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe, as part of the AU’s pre-election assessment before next Wednesday’s polls.

Dlamini-Zuma is expected to meet with the electoral commission and political parties before issuing a statement. The 54-nation group has deployed a 60-member team to observe the polls.

Zanu-PF insiders are not happy with the AU’s decision to appoint a former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo as head of the mission, claiming he will be biased towards the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). But Dlamini-Zuma says Obasanjo will only go to Zimbabwe if he’s allowed in that country.

She clarifies that they have two observer missions, the short as well as the long term ones. The long-term mission has been in Zimbabwe and sending reports, thus Dlamini-Zuma and her entourage are well-informed up to this stage. She further says they felt the need to go to Zimbabwe, see and talk to people on the ground ahead of the elections.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe says South Africa is keen that next week’s election in Zimbabwe should fairly reflect the people’s wishes. Thousands of refugees fled to South Africa after violence in the 2008 election, landing it with an expensive humanitarian crisis.

But since South Africa helped broker a unity government, the economy has been recovering. Preparations for the July 31 elections have been far from smooth, with the MDC alleging that Zanu-PF is making it hard for their voters to register.

Motlanthe says political stability is a pre-condition for economic development and South Africa has a vested interest in ensuring that there is peace and stability in Zimbabwe.

African Union happy with Zim poll preps

The Herald (Zimbabwe)

The African Union is happy with progress made by Zimbabwe so far in preparation for the July 31 harmonized elections, AU Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said. Although a full media briefing on observer reports is due this morning, Dr

Dlamini-Zuma, who spoke in IsiZulu on arrival at the Harare International Airport yesterday, gave the clearest hint that the observers are satisfied with the prevailing conditions.
“Siyayithola imbiko kulaba akade bafika. Okwamanje kukahle imbiko esiyitholayo ayikasenzi ukuthi sibenovalo kodwa sifuna ukuzobona nje nathi ukuthi kuqhubekani. (Those who came earlier said all was well and as of now everything is proceeding well. Nothing gives us any cause for alarm),” she said.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said that AU Mission chairperson and former Nigerian president Mr Olusegun Obasanjo’s visit to the country as part of the AU observer team is not guaranteed, saying it depends on whether Government will allow him.

“I think he will come. If he is allowed he will come. They allowed me to come, that is all I’m saying.”
Her visit follows that of AU commissioner for political affairs Dr Aïsha Abdullahi who arrived on Tuesday afternoon leading a 60-member team of observers to complement the 10 that have been in the country for the past two weeks.

The AU mission would be part of 20 000 local and foreign observers who have been accredited so far.
Several foreign teams have been in the country for some days, including an advance team of the AU, Sadc observers and South African President Jacob Zuma’s backroom facilitation team to the Global Political Agreement.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said the AU was being briefed about the situation in the country by a 10-member long-term observer team that has been in the country since July 15.
“We are here as the African Union observer mission, but, as you know, our team has been here for quite some time . . . they have been sending us reports, so we are fairly informed, but we felt that it was important to come and see for ourselves before the elections.”

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said she was keen to meet political stakeholders to get first-hand information on what was transpiring regarding the electoral process.
“We are still to talk to a number of people around the election, (the Zimbabwe) Electoral Commission, candidates, just to see how things are, before the actual election.”

On her arrival, Dr Abudullahi said AU was satisfied with an explanation on the electoral process given to it by Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa during its Peace and Security Council held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week.

She was responding to a question on why their communique was silent on claims from some quarters that there was “securitization of the State” in Zimbabwe with regards to the elections.
Dr Abudullahi said the subject was no longer an issue following Minister Chinamasa’s comprehensive explanation during the Addis Ababa meeting.

Ballot paper printing complete

Lloyd Gumbo
The Herald

Printing of ballots papers to be used during the July 31 harmonized elections has been completed, while other logistical arrangements are shaping up to ensure the smooth flow of polling. Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Rita Makarau confirmed

the development yesterday, saying sufficient mechanisms had been put in place to ensure a credible election.

She said in the “rare event” that most registered voters fail, for a justifiable cause, to cast their ballots on July 31, the commission would approach the court seeking an extension.

“We are hoping that we will be able to cater for everybody between 7am and 7pm because we have increased the number of polling stations.

“We have also introduced a system which we are calling streaming where even if it’s one polling station, people are going to be served at various points within the polling system.

“We believe that should contain the electorate that is coming to vote on July 31. But again, we have the best practice which demands that if, come 7pm there are still people in the queue, we serve them until we clear the queues and we can go up to 12 midnight. So, we believe those three strategies should be able to cater for all the people who are going to come to our queues.

“But in the rare event that we still cannot manage that, we believe that the right to vote should override time constraints. Therefore we may then have to approach the court for an extension, but we sincerely believe that it will not be necessary.

“But in the event that it becomes necessary, yes, we will uphold the right of every Zimbabwean to vote. If it means that we approach the court, yes, we will do it,” she said.

Justice Makarau said the commission was confident of delivering a credible election despite attacks and accusations it has been subjected to by some stakeholders.

She said the commission would continue to introspect to make sure all the logistics were in place.

The ZEC chairperson said the challenges faced during the special vote were unique to the system adding that they would not affect the ordinary vote.
Justice Makarau said the commission was ready for the harmonized polls.

She said binding and numbering (putting serial numbers) of ballot papers was now underway, adding that the papers had since been disbursed to six provinces while the remainder would be sent out by Saturday.

Justice Makarau said contrary to claims by some stakeholders especially, the MDC-T that the commission was biased towards Zanu-PF, its composition was of people who came from different backgrounds with the objective of delivering a credible election.

“The commission remains impartial. I wouldn’t want to remind you that the commissioners come from different backgrounds. All those commissioners debate issues passionately but always are guided by one sentiment and that is to render a credible election. One that is fair. That is what has been driving all commissioners. So they are impartial in my view and according to what I have seen to date.

“The secretariat works closely under the commission and theirs is to implement the policy decisions of the commission. The commissioners are not hands off people, they are all people who actually go in and work together with the secretariat. So there is no room for secretariat to carry out their own agenda.

“The commissioners are down there in the trenches with the secretariat. It’s one body where the commissioners and their staff are working together to deliver on a credible election,” said Justice Makarau.

African Union Commission chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and some Comesa observers yesterday paid separate courtesy calls on Justice Makarau and the commission.

Justice Makarau said the commission advised the observers about the progress towards the polls.
She said Treasury was releasing electoral funds as and when they were required.


South Africa wants Zimbabwe vote to reflect people’s will


With a big vested interest in the stability of Zimbabwe, South Africa is keen that next week’s election in its northern neighbor should fairly reflect the people’s wishes, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Wednesday.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled into South Africa after violence in the last election, in 2008, landing it with an expensive humanitarian crisis. But since it helped to broker a unity government, the economy has been recovering, creating opportunities for South African business.

However, preparations for the July 31 elections have been far from smooth, with President Robert Mugabe’s rivals in the Movement for Democratic Change alleging that his ZANU-PF party is making it hard for their voters to register. Washington has said it is not convinced the vote will be free and fair.

In an interview with Reuters, Motlanthe said Pretoria had no preference as to the result.

“Whatever the outcome of the elections, it should be a free expression of the will of Zimbabwe. That is how we view it.”

But he also said political stability was a precondition for economic development. “We have a vested interest as a country in ensuring that there is peace and stability in Zimbabwe. We can only benefit from that.”

South Africa’s major banks, retailers and mining firms have operations in Zimbabwe and positioning themselves to expand if the economy, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be worth $9.8 billion in 2012, continues to grow. Zimbabwe spends the equivalent of 20 percent of its GDP on imports from South Africa.

Yet two days of advance voting this month for 63,000 police officers and soldiers suggested that fears of election chaos will be borne out, raising the prospect of a disputed result.

Motlanthe said that, so far, there were no indications that the widespread violence and intimidation surrounding the 2008 election would be repeated, but added:

“If anything causes an implosion in Zimbabwe, we would with immediate effect have to deal with the consequences”.

Motlanthe said President Jacob Zuma spoke regularly with Mugabe, who has made disparaging public comments about Pretoria’s interventions, even calling one of Zuma’s top envoys “stupid and idiotic”.


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