Saturday 15 May 2021
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Where are you going Zimbabwe?

The purpose of this article is to reflect on the recent election in Zimbabwe. This article asks:  What is the future of the country following the election? Zimbabweans turned up in their numbers during polling day. The objective, one would assume, was to contribute to the reconstruction of their country.
Commentators, including election observers have stated their views regarding the outcome of the election. In most instances, they have publicized their preliminary reports.
It is important to note that credible analysts use conceptual frameworks to analyze, describe, understand and predict phenomena.
What is significant is that conclusions should be methodical and scientifically defendable. Against this background, my analysis of the recent election in Zimbabwe is through the lens of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and preliminary reports of the observer missions, especially SADC, AU, Commonwealth and the EU.
An election is a process and consists of related undertakings.
The verdict of free, fair, transparent and credible election should consider the pre-election, voting and post-election events.
Secondly, elections generally take place under constitutional and other legislative frameworks.
Regarding constitutions, Okoth-Ogendo in the book: ‘’State and Constitutionalism: An African Debate on Democracy’’, argues that the African political dilemma and paradox is constitutions without constitutionalism.
By extension, we have elections that do not meet the principles of free, fair, transparent and credible elections. The SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections define free elections, as elections where ’’fundamental human rights and freedoms are adhered to during electoral processes, including freedom of speech and expression of the electoral stakeholders, and freedom of assembly and association, and that freedom of access to information and right to transmit and receive political messages by citizens is upheld; that the principles of equal and universal adult suffrage are observed, in addition to the voter’s right to exercise their franchise in secret and register their complaints without undue restrictions or repercussions.’’
Against the backdrop of the definitions of fair, transparent and credible, as contained in the SADC principles and guidelines, we can now proceed to analyze the 2018 Zimbabwe election.
The Chairperson of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission to Zimbabwe has stated that there had been a remarkable transformation in the exercise and protection of civil and political rights compared to the 2008 presidential run off.
Despite the positive developments, the Mission also expressed concerns about issues related to postal voting, lack of facilities for diaspora voting, traditional leaders using influence to intimidate or coerce the rural population into supporting the governing party, comparably low participation of women as candidates, and the public broadcaster and State-owned newspapers favouring of one political party.
The pronouncement that citizens would like to hear regarding outcomes of elections, especially in Africa, and without ambiguity, is whether it has been free, fair, transparent and credible.
The preliminary statement of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission to Zimbabwe has concluded that: “The pre-election phase and the voting proceeded in a peaceful and orderly manner, and were largely in line with key provisions of the legal and constitutional framework and in conformity with the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.”
The conclusion similar to other observer missions remains vague in the context of issues raised in the reports and the definitions of the SADC Principles and Guidelines.
I will conclude that the election might have been peaceful, but not free, fair, transparent and credible. The SADC Principles and Guidelines defines a credible election, as electoral processes that enjoy considerable support and confidence of the citizenry and international or regional community, leading to mutually agreeable results from competing entities that participate actively in the electoral process.
The election has not resolved the Zimbabwe governance crisis.
I predict that we will continue to see human suffering, militarization of politics and state institutions, and polarization of the nation along ethnic and urban-rural divide factors.
This is unfortunate, as Zimbabweans in my view would not like to be in the diaspora and unfortunately being referred to as “economic refugees.’’
I am hopeful, however, that with their knowledge, high literacy skills, strong value systems and resilience, they will one day reconstruct their beloved Zimbabwe.
Dr. Marius Kudumo; Specializes in Education, policy studies and international relations.

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