THE African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance signed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the African Union Extraordinary Summit in Rwanda on March 21 requires all member countries to accept election results contrary to utterances by some Zanu PF officials that they would not accept an opposition win this year.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Mnangagwa’s assent to the charter meant that if he lived to his promises when he signed it, then the utterances by some party members like Finance deputy minister Terence Mukupe to the effect that the military will not allow MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa to rule if he wins this year’s elections actually contravene what the President assented to in the Charter.
In their recent Elections Watch bulletin, legal think-tank Veritas said the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which Mnangagwa assented to, required the promotion and holding of regular, free and fair elections to institutionalise legitimate authority of representative government as well as democratic change of government.
They said although Mnangagwa’s signature to the Charter did not establish a binding obligation under international law to comply with the Charter’s terms in order to make Zimbabwe a State party to the terms of the Charter, there was now need for Parliament to approve the Charter to make it binding.
“The provisions in the Charter promote best practices in the management of elections for purposes of political stability and good governance and strengthening political pluralism and recognising the role, rights and responsibilities of legally constituted political parties, including opposition political parties, which should be given a status under national law,” Veritas said.
“On requirements for a transparent, free and fair election, state parties must ensure that there is a binding code of conduct governing legally recognised political stakeholders, government and other political actors prior, during and after elections.
“The code shall include a commitment by political stakeholders to accept the results of the election or challenge them in through exclusively legal channels,” they said.
The preamble of the Charter also spells out concerns that there must be entrenched in the continent a political culture of change of power based on the holding of regular, free, fair and transparent elections conducted by competent, independent and impartial electoral bodies.