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- HARARE – SADC Troika ministers say recent attacks targeted at Zambian leader Hakainde Hichilema and the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) by some Zimbabwean authorities after a damning report on the country’s August elections were a threat to the regional bloc and its subsidiary organs.
The sentiments were expressed in a communique issued from an extraordinary meeting of the ministerial committee of the Organ (EO-MCO Troika) conducted virtually on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe held polls to elect their president and representatives for parliament and local authorities August 23.
The elections that reinstalled President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party, failed to pass the credibility test, according to reports by observers.
SADC and other international observer missions, in their preliminary reports, said the poll failed to satisfy drawn regional and global guidelines governing the running of free and fair elections.
The reports cited stifling of opposition campaigns by police, ZEC bias and incompetence and a bungled ballot in opposition strongholds as some of the factors that tilted the vote in favour of the ruling party.
The stance taken especially by SADC observers elicited insults and threats by Zanu PF officials who felt the regional bloc’s appendage had deviated from the pan-African spirit of seeing no fault in an ally’s ways.
Threats were particularly directed at Hichilema, in his capacity as Troika chair and former Zambian vice president Nevers Mumba who headed the mission.
Some politicians who included war veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and Patrick Chinamasa accused Mumba of authoring the damning report at the behest of the Zambian incumbent, an ally of Zimbabwe’s main opposition CCC.
SADC Troika ministers said in their response to the widely condemned attitude that “such attacks undermine the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections and might have a negative bearing on the SEOMs that are to be deployed in the future elections” citing the Eswatini election being held this Friday.
“The EO-Troika noted that there is a risk that if unchecked, further attacks on the leadership of the organ and of the SEOM have the potential to damage the credibility of SADC as an institution,” reads the communique in part.
Regional ministers urged the SADC “secretariat to remain pro-active in its efforts at protecting the credibility and leadership of the SADC structures such as the SEOM”.
Added the ministers, “Given that some circumstances are unpredictable, and that there will always be some individuals who will not agree with the SEOM, all reports and statements should be crafted in a manner that ensures relevant procedures and rules are followed to protect the SADC institutions from the unwarranted attacks”.
“…The secretariat to ensure that the Organ Troika Member States continue to process, adopt and own the reports of the SEOM so as to avoid unwarranted suggestions that the reports are the product of one individual or member state.”
Both government and Zanu PF were yet to respond on the Troika ministerial position.
Zanu PF has since convened a media conference this Friday where it is expected to issue a response to the statement by SADC.