Sadc urged to trash Mumba’s biased report

Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (Communications), Mr George Charamba

ZIMBABWE is consolidating a national response to the Preliminary Report of the SADC Elections Observer Mission (SEOM) which is fraught with irregularities, hearsay and pure hyperbolic nonsense imputed from the country’s opposition parties.

The SADC report, which has similarities with the European Union Elections Observer Mission Report, has threatened to cause a diplomatic row between Zimbabwe and its neighbour Zambia, which seconded its former vice president Dr Nevers Mumba to head the mission, despite his questionable background.

Before the elections that were held on August 23, spilling into the 24th in some areas, Dr Mumba held several meetings with the country’s opposition CCC and EU representatives, with the submissions from the opposition finding their way into his scandalous preliminary report.

Apart from pursuing diplomatic engagements, Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (Communications), Mr George Charamba, said Harare is compiling a document for presentation to its sister republics in the region.

“We are at the beginning stage of a very long process of adoption which is why Zimbabweans must not be overly excited, and in any event Zimbabwe as a country under observation has its right of response and I happen to know that work is already underway to consolidate a national response to what is in fact a very faulty report by the SADC Observer Mission.

“The second point that I want to make is that SADC is a creature of the Frontline States which is essentially an anti-imperial formation. This has been its history and I dare say this is its trajectory now and into the future.”

Mr Charamba, who is also President Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, said Zimbabwe is worried that foreigners would want to brew a conflict situation in the region where there is none.

“If you check back in history, there were a number of instances where the Zimbabwean Question triggered very open provocations led by some Heads of State of SADC countries. Zimbabwe resisted being goaded into a conflict situation by outsiders through neighbours to create an African conflict. 

“We have no business in being instrumentalised by outsiders to be at loggerheads with each other so really this has been the stance of Zimbabwe and I don’t think it is any different now. In any event, it will be wrong for us to conflate a draft of an observer mission with the national position of a country and a neighbouring country for that matter with whom we have  enjoyed excellent relations. So I see Zimbabwe maybe consolidating its own national position and participating in SADC processes to make sure that this pertinently very bad report is not given SADC official status.”

Mr Charamba added that at worst, the Dr Mumba preliminary report is just an irritant which in its draft form is not binding as it has to be taken to the Sadc Troika first.

He said the Troika Plus 1 will then have to adopt the document and even after its adoption, it has to be adopted by a SADC Summit, which will be taking place next year in June in Harare, when Zimbabwe assumes chairmanship of the regional body.

By nature, Mr Charamba said, politics are emotive and can make or break nations, hence the need to approach people with the right temperament and capacity to preside over them.

“By definition electoral processes are inherently emotive, they can make or break a nation because the political temperature is at a fever pitch, that’s the first point. Secondly, again by definition electoral processes make governments, they define a leader of a nation, they also pave the way to a government. 

“To that end that’s a very critical process in the life and activity of a nation’s state. What that means is the constitution of an observer mission is such a sensitive decision and a decision which must ensure that one, the person heading that process is of sound experience and sound temperament,” said Mr Charamba.

Commenting on Dr Mumba’s conduct, highly respected African statesman and former Mozambican President Cde Joachim Chissano, who is 84 and was President of Mozambique from 1986 to 2005, said in his life in politics, he has never heard of observers straying from their mandate as did the SADC Head of the Observer Mission.

“This did not happen in my country,” said President Chissano. “I was not present in all elections in Southern Africa . . . maybe it happened somewhere else (but), I never heard of it.”

However, diplomatic sources said there is a method to Dr Mumba’s conduct, drawing this publication to a time when the then former vice president of Zambia, who allegedly has a mental illness, almost ignited a war between his country and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2004, the then President of Zambia, the late Mr Levy Mwanawasa, had to drop Dr Mumba as his deputy after the latter said a fugitive Zambian spy chief was holed up in the DRC, an allegation that almost precipitated a war between the two neighbours.

The diplomatic sources questioned how such a character, with his connections to the country’s opposition figures, could have been accepted by Zimbabwe to play the role of chief observer.

“Nevers Mumba has a well-known history of clinical mental problems. What surprised most of us in the region was when the Zambian President picked him for chairmanship of such a sensitive mission and on a trip to a country like Zimbabwe whose election history is fraught.

“Even the most cursory background check would have shown that this man almost precipitated an interstate conflict between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2004. To de-escalate matters that were coming to a head, President Mwanawasa had to fire him as the country’s Vice President,” the diplomat said.

In his home country, Dr Mumba has been described as a typical Pentecostal preacher turned politician, after he used his clout as a televangelist in Zambia to launch himself politically in 2001.

Ironically, Dr Mumba’s party was called National Citizens Coalition, a name that was to be adopted albeit with slight variations in Zimbabwe as the opposition formed its Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

Unsurprisingly, Dr Mumba has long standing ties with the country’s opposition leaders including Mr Chamisa’s predecessor, the late Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.

The two, along with South African opposition leader Mr Mmusi Maimane, were at the core of the so-called Southern Africa Opposition Political Parties, whose mission was to fight and dislodge former liberation movements like Zanu PF and the ANC from power.

Herald

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