GOVERNMENT has been accused of trying to “bully” some countries in the region to endorse President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s controversial victory after the Southern African Development Community election observer mission (SEOM) issued an adverse preliminary report on the outcome of last week’s elections.

Already, leaders of Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania have endorsed Mnangagwa’s victory. South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa congratulated him, but qualified his commendation in later remarks.

Other regional leaders have remained mum.

Opposition CCC secretary for foreign affairs, Gladys Hlatshwayo, yesterday claimed that there was a sustained and deliberate attempt to deflate the SEOM report by dividing countries in the region.

“Zanu PF’s attempt to divide our Sadc region must be resisted by all progressive governments,” Hlatshwayo said.

“Zanu PF is known for exporting its toxicity to the region and undermining regional institutions! We remember how they shut down the Sadc Tribunal.”

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Government and Zanu PF hardliners have trashed the Sadc SEOM preliminary report, and labelled the head of the mission, Nevers Mumba, a Western puppet and an opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) sympathiser.

CCC leader, Nelson Chamisa, has rejected the election results and demanded a fresh poll supervised by Sadc and the African Union.

Last week, the Sadc secretariat rushed to the defence of the SEOM and Mumba following sustained attacks by Zanu PF officials.

However, that has not stopped Zanu PF and some government officials from attacking Mumba in a bid to force Sadc to review its report which cast aspersions on the legitimacy of Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party victory.

Yesterday, Information ministry permanent secretary, Ndavaningi Mangwana, claimed that some regional leaders had received financial inducements from the West to trash the election outcome.

“A number of countries in the region are under pressure from hegemonic forces to align themselves with their position,” Mangwana posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“But the region is refusing to be infiltrated through proxies. It’s pushing back.

“Of course, there are those that are susceptible to blackmail or even outright bribery but the principled ones are showing fortitude.”

On the eve of the elections, presidential spokesperson George Charamba raised similar allegations before his Tinoedzazvimwe1 X handle was blocked.

South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said Sadc must stand up against Zanu PF bullying tactics.

DA shadow minister of international relations and co-operation, Emma Louise Powell, said regional leaders should side with the SEOM.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Foreign minister Naledi Pandor should be coming to the defence of the SEOM election observer mission which has come under direct attack from the Zanu PF government over its preliminary report,” Powell said.

“If Sadc and South Africa are to retain any remnant of credibility, they must reject these primitive bullying tactics by Zanu PF and demand an independent review of the election,” Powell said.

On Tuesday, South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane said Sadc should hold an extraordinary summit to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis.

Zanu PF acting information director, Farai Marapira, said the ruling party had a right to comment on how the SEOM conducted itself.

“Sadc is a voluntary organisation which Zimbabwe is part of,” Marapira said when contacted for comment.

“We have the right to comment but we are not trying to sow any divisions. Right now, we are focusing on our mandate to govern.”

Government on Sunday summoned Sadc ambassadors accredited to the country where Foreign Affairs acting minister, Amon Murwira, read the riot act to force their capitals to endorse Mnangagwa’s re-election.

Zanu PF and government officials have also criticised the European Union for its preliminary report that flagged the polls as not credible.

Yesterday, a representative of the EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, issued a statement pushing back against Zanu PF’s criticism of its observer mission.

“The EU deplores the extensive and sustained disinformation and defamation campaign waged against the EU EOM and other international observer organisations, the lack of access to key electoral bodies as well as the unjustified arrests of citizen observers,” Borrell said.

Borell said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had to restore its credibility by releasing disaggregated data per polling station.

 “The EU encourages the Zec to exercise maximum transparency in the process of results tabulation, including disaggregated election results by polling stations and the Judiciary in adjudicating all post-electoral complaints and grievances.

“The EU restates its firm support to independent citizen election observation as a fundamental exercise of defence of human rights and a tool to add transparency, accountability and integrity to any electoral process.”

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