SA to suffer consequences of disputed Zimbabwe poll


Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Emma Louise Powell

from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
Western Cape Bureau
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – WITH the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe set to be disputed and exacerbate the domestic crisis, neighbouring South Africa will continue bearing the brunt.

Critics accuse the African National Congress (ANC) led government of complicity in Zimbabwe’s travails, through the so-called ‘quiet diplomacy.’

The official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has thus raised concern at the political developments across the Limpopo, amid alleged violations by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), led by incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The DA disclosed it will be writing to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, requesting the early deployment of election observers to ensure greater scrutiny of electoral processes in terms of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

SADC is the Southern African Development Community.

“The SADC framework allows for early deployment and this must be done immediately,” said Emma Louise Powell, DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

The DA noted that ahead of the August 23 elections, the process has been marred by the banning of opposition party rallies, violence against activists, detention without trial of opposition politicians and bias from the allegedly captured Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Reports indicate that the leading opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has had its campaign rallies arbitrarily banned.

The High Court has barred ex-minister and former ZANU-PF member, Saviour Kasukuwere, from contesting. He was exiled in South Africa following the coup that removed former president Robert Mugabe from power in 2017.

Opposition politician, Job Sikhala, has been detained without trial for more than a year and denied his right to apply for bail.

“The ZEC has been captured by ZANU-PF, further dimming the prospects of a free and fair election,” Powell said.

DA, which governs the Western Cape province, alleged none of the previous election recommendations made by SADC or African Union (AU) observers had yet been implemented.

These touched on unfair coverage of opposition by state media, transparency and a timeous disclosure of the voters’ roll.

The recent introduction of legislation such as The Patriot Act, signed into law last week, now curbs the right of Zimbabweans to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, according to the DA.

The Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Amendment Bill, awaiting the president’s signature, prohibits political lobbying from non-government organizations (NGOS), which will render oversight of the executive by civil society almost impossible, the South African opposition noted.

ANC and ZANU-PF have long-running relations, dating back to the fight against colonialism and apartheid by both parties.

Fikile Mbalula, the ANC Secretary General, recently launched an attack on the leading Zimbabwean opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, accusing him of being a “puppet of the West”.

The DA argued Mbalula’s comments weakened South Africa’s credibility as a potential mediator in the event of a post-election dispute.

“As long as the ANC government continues to protect the ZANU-PF regime, South Africa will keep paying a heavy price with the influx of economic refugees,” Powell said.

She added for two decades now, South Africa had been a net recipient of economic refugees from Zimbabwe, fleeing a collapsed economy and health system.

“This has brought undue strain on our domestic resources and inflamed tensions within local communities.”

Had it not been the intervention of the courts, South Africa could have resumed a mass deportation of Zimbabweans that have been in the country on the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP).

The validity of these permits, held by over 178 000 individuals, has been extended to the end of June 2024.

– CAJ News

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