Harare, Zimbabwe: Rusty Markham, a legislator from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has made a strong plea for the Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) Election Observation Mission’s report on Zimbabwe’s recent elections to be discussed in Parliament. This request was articulated on Thursday during a session centered on national interest.
Markham, representing Harare East, raised concerns over the discrepancy between the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) assurances of adequate ballot paper availability and the actual shortage experienced on election day. This shortage notably affected urban voters in Harare and Bulawayo, causing delays in voting until as late as 9:00 PM.
Citing a pre-election meeting on August 17th, 2023, with international observers, Markham highlighted the ZEC’s claim of having printed 7.6% more presidential ballot papers than necessary, along with a surplus for National Assembly and local ballots. Yet, despite these assurances, many polling stations, both rural and urban, experienced ballot shortages by the afternoon of the election day.
Markham’s query extends to the accountability of the ZEC and the need for an explanation from a relevant minister or an independent commission regarding these discrepancies. The legislator also emphasized the importance of discussing the SADC’s recently adopted report in Parliament to understand the full scope of the election’s conduct.
Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi, however, did not provide a clear response to these concerns, advising Markham to formally address them in writing to the responsible minister.
Despite Gezi’s stance, Markham persisted in his request for a parliamentary ruling on the SADC report. Gezi reiterated her inability to make such a ruling, leaving the issue unresolved.
This development comes after the SADC Heads of State and Government, including Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, approved the SEOM report during an Extraordinary Summit in Angola last week. President Mnangagwa has since urged citizens to focus on national development, moving beyond the August elections.
However, the CCC continues to challenge the legitimacy of the election results, citing irregularities and accusing the ruling party, Zanu-PF, of obstructing a meaningful discussion on the elections at the SADC summit. The opposition maintains that decisive regional action is imperative to address these contested outcomes.