Sadc must ensure free 2018 polls, MDC-T

August 24, 2017
| Report Focus News

SADC must ensure that next year’s elections uphold tenets enshrined in the bloc’s Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections which seek to promote democracy, MDC-T has said.

Heads of states from the region met in South Africa last weekend for the regional body’s 37th annual summit on “Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value-chains”.

MDC-T national spokesperson Obert Gutu said although the body has made commendable progress in advancing member countries’ economic and political interests, SADC citizens continue to be deprived from enjoying their democratic rights.

As Zimbabwe readies for the 2018 elections, Gutu said SADC should not be caught napping by a political system set to deprive people free, fair and credible elections.

“As a social democratic political party, the MDC takes note of the fact that elections in Zimbabwe have frequently been marred by serious electoral irregularities such as intimidation of voters and blatant vote rigging as was the case in the July 2013 harmonised elections,” Gutu said in a statement this week.

He added, “We would like to call upon SADC to do whatever is within its power to ensure that next year’s elections in Zimbabwe be held in a free and fair environment that will guarantee a credible outcome.”

From the year 2000 when a strong opposition to President Robert Mugabe’s government emerged, elections in Zimbabwe have been characterised by allegations of electoral malpractices including political violence, vote rigging, vote buying and ballot stuffing by the ruling party Zanu PF.

“We now look forward to the holding of elections whose outcome would not be subject to contestation,” said Gutu.

With millions of locals in economic and political exile from a country faced with high unemployment rates of over 80 percent and a history of political persecution, Gutu said SADC should also help guarantee the safety of Zimbabweans from hostile elements in receiving countries.

“Occasionally, Zimbabweans living in the diaspora, particularly in South Africa, have been unfortunate victims of xenophobic attacks. The MDC would like to call upon SADC to ensure that the scourge of xenophobia is totally eliminated from the SADC region,” he said.

The success of SADC in fostering democracy within the region has been affected by, according to political experts, historical ties. Many states are still being led by liberation parties who share relations going back to colonial Africa resulting in presidents sacrificing democracy to protect the interests of their allies.