ZIMBABWE should come up with domestic solutions to its electoral problems than place their hope on regional and continental bodies such as Sadc and the African Union (AU), Election Resource Centre director Tawanda Chimhini said yesterday.
By Everson Mushava
Chimhini said although continued dialogue with regional and continental bodies should not be abandoned, Sadc and AU had shown that they could not be trusted as their thrust was more on political stability than democratic principles.
“Zimbabwe should come up with domestic solutions. The regional bodies cannot be trusted. In my view, their objectivity has been limited and we have seen their role as that of endorsing flawed elections,” Chimhini said.
He was speaking at a discussion forum organised by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) to explore the issue of elections in Zimbabwe, under the title “The role of the regional community in elections in Zimbabwe”.
Chimhini said although the AU and Sadc had election principles and guidelines, in the past they had endorsed elections that fell short of their own set standards. He said their election observer missions, particularly from Sadc, were hamstrung by the emphasis on sovereignty of States and a good neighbourhood policy.
Elections in Zimbabwe, Chimhini said, had always fallen short of Sadc and AU guidelines, but had been given a clean bill of health by the regional and continental bodies. He said Sadc did very little in promoting its own election values.
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director Pedzisai Ruhanya said there was need for strong representation of civil organisations at both Sadc and AU to push for electoral reforms.
He said there was need for civic organisations to co-operate and reach out to the common person in the street with their programmes that aim to force the government to resort to democratic practices.
He said Zimbabwe was a pseudo-democracy where elections were simply conducted for ritual purposes to allow the ruling party to reproduce itself.
Sadc and AU, Ruhanya said, were quick to respond when there were coups, but very slow in resolving electoral disputes because ruling parties wanted to remain in power for ever.
In the case of Zimbabwe, he said Zimbabweans should fight for their own liberation by disobeying unjust laws.
“It is within their constitutional rights to disobey unjust laws,” Ruhanya said.
Derek Matyszak, senior researcher for Research and Advocacy Unit, said civil society should avoid taking a political role and push for democratic changes in the country.