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SADC Closes Door On Fresh Elections In Zimbabwe

SADC Closes Door On Fresh Elections In Zimbabwe

The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has seemingly closed the door on the call for fresh elections in Zimbabwe, with the regional bloc’s secretariat throwing its support behind a project initiated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Backing for the multi-million-dollar Museum of African Liberation in Harare was affirmed by both the Sadc secretariat and the African Union (AU) following discussions with Mnangagwa’s special envoy, ambassador Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

Mnangagwa’s administration is the primary sponsor of the project, which is being implemented by the Institute of African Knowledge (INSTAK).

Recent statements from both Sadc and the AU indicate their willingness to collaborate with Mnangagwa’s government on the museum project, a move criticized by some as legitimizing his regime.

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The Sadc Election Observer Mission previously identified several electoral irregularities but stopped short of declaring the election outcome illegitimate, aligning with other international observer missions.

In late January 2024, Mumbengegwi met with Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to seek the AU Commission’s support for the Museum of African Liberation project. Mahamat expressed the AU Commission’s eagerness to collaborate on the initiative.

Subsequently, Mumbengegwi traveled to the Sadc headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana, to discuss a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sadc’s executive secretary, Elias Magosi. Magosi highlighted the project’s alignment with the region’s objectives, emphasizing the recognition of Sadc founders and the pursuit of regional integration.

“Magosi highlighted that the project resonates with the region’s objectives, among others, the operationalisation of the mechanism to recognise and honour the founders of Sadc for their contribution to the establishment of the organisation and pursuit of regional integration,” an official report on the Sadc website said.

The report continued: “In this regard, further engagements regarding the project and MoU, as well as follow-ups, will be conducted between Sadc and INSTAK in collaboration with the Zimbabwean embassy in Botswana.”

The endorsement of Mnangagwa’s administration by both Sadc and the AU suggests that the issue of Zimbabwe’s elections has been shelved in favor of advancing diplomatic ties.

This development is likely to dampen the opposition’s hopes for a poll rerun, despite some analysts deeming it unfeasible.

Reacting to the news on social media, journalist and Mnangagwa critic Hopewell Chin’ono expressed skepticism about Sadc’s intentions, noting its engagement with Mnangagwa’s regime on matters unrelated to electoral issues.

Hopewell Chin’ono said: “Well, Sadc is engaged on Zanu PF regime things fellow compatriots. The executive secretary of Sadc met with Mnangagwa’s envoy, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi to talk about, wait for it, the Liberation Museum being built in Harare.

“Do you still believe the lies that Sadc is coming to deal with the shambolic electoral issues?”

The majority of responses to the post lamented that Sadc had “abandoned” the people of Zimbabwe; while others pointed out that the bloc had no legal basis on which to order and supervise fresh elections.

Responses to Chin’ono’s post expressed disappointment with Sadc’s perceived abandonment of the Zimbabwean people and highlighted the bloc’s lack of legal authority to order fresh elections.

In the 2018 elections, Mnangagwa was declared the winner with 52.6% of the vote, while Nelson Chamisa, leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), garnered 44.03%. Chamisa contested the results, launching a diplomatic campaign for fresh polls.

Amidst internal turmoil within the CCC, Chamisa relinquished the party presidency, leaving the party divided over his leadership and facing internal strife over the recall of legislators and councillors.

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