Leaders in the Southern African region have been urged to follow the lead of Botswana’s President Ian Khama in condemning Zimbabwe’s 2013 elections as neither fair nor credible.In an interview aired on Botswana’s national television station, BTV, Khama said the Zim elections were neither free nor fair. He also announced that Botswana will no longer participate in any SADC election observer missions, because the leadership bloc appears to have let Zimbabwe “off the hook”. The Botswana President insisted that the elections were never fair, and that the rules that govern democratic elections in Southern African were not followed in Zimbabwe’s case.
SADC has set itself guidelines for the conduct of free and fair elections…And in Zim, we sent 80 plus or so observers and almost every one of them said there were irregularities in that election, and there were. I am convinced of it,” Khama said. He added: So, the point was just to say that we must fix the problem because if the guidelines were violated and you create that precedent in Zimbabwe, then it means the next election, because Zimbabwe is going to have elections again, they are likely to repeat the same irregularities.
Khama’s comments fly in the face of SADC’s endorsement of Zimbabwe’s elections, which have also been disputed by the opposition MDCs in Zimbabwe, civil society groups and regional observer teams present during the polls. One of the observers, Masizole Mnqasela, the South African Shadow Minister for Home affairs from the Democratic Alliance (DA), refused to sign off on a SADC report that endorsed the polls. He defended his position this week and said other SADC leaders should learn from Khama’s statement.
The election process could not be regarded as a process that was free, or proper. It was a process that lacked credibility and was unconstitutional. So one could not help but declare them unconstitutional and they could not be condoned,” Mnqasela told SW Radio Africa’s Diaspora Diaries series. He explained that the principles that govern SADC’s commitment to democracy and development need to be upheld, for the good of the entire region.