AN attempt by a member State of the Southern Africa Development Community to call for an extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe has been thwarted after some alert regional bloc member countries saw it as a covert effort by the European Union (EU) to undermine Harare’s sovereignty.
This comes as Sadc Election Observer Mission Head and former Zambian Vice President, Dr Nevers Mumba, sought to discredit the country’s just-ended harmonised elections which saw Zanu PF presidential candidate, President Mnangagwa, declared winner beating his closest rival, Mr Nelson Chamisa of CCC.
Dr Mumba has since come under fire for covertly handing over the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) report to CCC, as confirmed by the opposition party’s fugitive spokesperson, Mr Promise Mkwananzi, thereby flouting the bloc’s guidelines on elections and ethics of observers, which require the teams to be impartial, Government has said.
In his post on X (formerly Twitter) yesterday, Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, said the covert machinations by the Sadc member State has since been noted by other vigilant member States.
“There is some treacherous lobbying going on by one SADC member State to have an Extraordinary Summit on Zimbabwe. The other members are seeing through this and it’s not going to happen. This agenda being pushed by this member state is not its own. It’s doing a hatchet job for some powerful nations,” said Mr Mangwana.
Dr Mumba has since been exposed as a biased election observer after Mr Mkwananzi confirmed in an interview with a local weekly last week that CCC had seen the SEOM’s final report, which spotlights his role in the high-stakes game to besmirch Zimbabwe’s August 23-24 elections.
In the lead-up to the recent elections, concerns were raised on the conduct of Dr Mumba, as he seemingly aligned with CCC and even went to the extent of accompanying Mr Chamisa — one of the 11 presidential candidates — to cast his vote in Kuwadzana, Harare.
He also attended Mr Chamisa’s press conference later that day.
In an interview with our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (Communications), Mr George Charamba, said if what Mr Mkwananzi is saying is true, it represents an unprecedented breach of SADC principles and guidelines on elections.
“If what CCC has indicated is true, namely, that the final report has been shared with a political player in Zimbabwe, ahead of presentation to the chairman of the (SADC) Organ (on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation), who is Zambian President, and ahead of its adoption by the Presidents of the Troika (Zambia, Namibia and Tanzania) — those who are supposed to sign it — and also ahead of a signed copy of the report being given to the Zimbabwean Government; if this is what has happened, it is a breach of the SADC code of conduct in relation to election observation. If there is evidence, we will take it up with SADC,” he said.
Diplomatic sources indicate that beyond the scarcely concealed bias towards CCC, Zambia was also closely following the country’s election to the extent of getting regular updates from the opposition, before, during and after the elections.
It is also believed that, apart from dispatching Dr Mumba on a mission to “deliver a free and fair election for Zimbabwe”, Zambian officials were still making frantic efforts to convince the region to convene an extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe.
Further, the sources said, the Zambian government, in direct contravention of the impartiality demanded of it, called some Heads of State in the region to prematurely and misleadingly announce that Mr Chamisa had won the elections by 51 percent of the vote, with President Mnangagwa managing 47 percent.
However, it turned out that President Mnangagwa actually garnered 52,6 percent of the vote, with Mr Chamisa getting 44 percent.
This misdirected offensive by Zambian officials reportedly prompted Tanzania to try and send its former President Jakaya Kikwete, as an elderly statesman, to help manage an anticipated volatile situation in Zimbabwe.
However, before Mr Kikwete could fly to Zimbabwe, several SADC governments that had been contacted by Lusaka phoned the Zimbabwean Government seeking confirmation of developments in Harare.
The plot, which ultimately was designed to dent Zanu PF and President Mnangagwa’s legitimacy, reportedly involved some members of the SADC secretariat, including officials from the Zambian government.
Before the elections, Western governments, especially the European Union (EU), even went to the extent of extending close to US$3 million to ensure CCC fielded polling agents across the country.
The money, however, disappeared.
Eyebrows were also raised when Dr Mumba’s preliminary report was almost similarly worded as the EU and US government-sponsored Carter Centre reports.
But the report is widely expected to be rejected by the region.
A Sadc member state is given an opportunity to study the report and its recommendations.
It will either accept the recommendations, if they are progressive and consistent with the constitution and laws of the country, or reject them.