Our elections were decided by the people!

19 Nov, 2023 - 00:11 0 Views
Our elections were  decided by the people! Elections

The Sunday News

Dr Jenfan Muswere

The Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe takes note of the misleading and biased European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) 2023 Harmonised Election Final Report which seeks to impugn Zimbabwe’s democratic processes.

The report focuses on a closed episode of our national political cycle. Zimbabwe is now at the height of implementing His Excellency, President Comrade Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s development agenda.

However, it is prudent to underscore the factual shortfalls of the EU EOM final report as it seeks to misrepresent the Government’s adherence to the demands of the Constitution in ensuring that the harmonised election was free and fair.

The entire election fulfilled the tenets of our robust national democracy. The Government is fully aware of the EU EOM’s irregular nocturnal meetings with opposition political players outside conventional election observation parameters. We also know that the EU disbursed campaign funds to a particular opposition party in flagrant violation of the Political Parties Finances Act.

We also have substantial evidence of the EU EOM’s clandestine operations with other Election Observer Missions (EOMs) for the purpose of manipulating their reports to discredit the election outcome. At the same time, the Government is aware of the colonial traditional reactionary aspersions of those perennially inclined to subvert the will of our people by misrepresenting facts about Zimbabwe’s political environment before, during and after the elections.

Section 93 of the Constitution provides for the legal processes to be followed in the event that there are election disputes.  However, after the announcement of the election results, there was no legal challenge to the process or the outcome of the election, which gave legitimacy to the status quo. The outcome and conclusion of the elections was decided by the people of Zimbabwe on the August 23 and 24, 2023.

The adoption of the “patriotic provisions” in the Criminal Codification and Reform Act is in line with strengthening our National Security interest. The amendment is consistent with our sovereign privilege as any equal actor within the international community. The Cyber and Data Protection Act supports Zimbabwe’s fulfilment of international law in combating cybercrimes and focuses on the safety and security of citizens.

This law does not interfere with what the report refers to as the infringement of “social media and digital rights” of the citizenry. As for the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill, it did not get Presidential assent, resulting in its referral back to Parliament. Therefore, its perceived contentious provisions are still mere proposals. The PVO Bill cannot be cited as a restrictive piece of legislation when it does not even exist.

Further to this, the report suggests that prosecution of criminality of the members of political players translate to political persecution. However, no one is above the law and our law will never be selectively applied to exonerate criminality. Being a political player does not provide one with the privilege of immunity.

Like any other modern democracy, the independence and integrity of Zimbabwe’s judiciary is sacrosanct as opposed to the maligning allegations of the EU EOM Final Report. Government condemns the unwarranted attack on the entire legal framework of the elections as it relates to the:

•    Constitutional mandate of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in the running of the elections in Zimbabwe;
•    Parliament’s law-making prerogative and its independence with respect to the cited amendments;
•    Delimitation process as spelt out in Section 160-161 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe;
•    Independence and transparency of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC); and
•    Efficient administrative function of the entire election life-cycle by ZEC.

To this end, ZEC complied with its constitutionally demanded duties in promoting voter registration, voter verification and voter education which produced an inclusive, credible, free and fair outcome. It must also be reiterated that the civil society and all social movements in Zimbabwe enjoy the constitutional benevolence of the freedom of association and expression.

This is a prevailing reality which profoundly contradicts the report’s false projection of a restricted political environment in Zimbabwe in the run up to the elections. Contrary to the claims of the EU EOM Report, Government continues to ensure that the national broadcaster the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) affords all political players fair airplay as required by the law.

The Government has intensified media liberalisation through licensing of new radio and TV broadcasters.

Instead, Government condemns the weaponisation of some private media players for hostile and polarising reportage in favour of a certain opposition party which is perpetually purporting to be operating in an unfair playing field. The rights and freedoms of all journalists is constitutionally governed.

To this end, there have been reforms in the media sector which include, but are not limited to the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa). We now have the Freedom of Information Act and under the new legal and operational circumstances, the issue of a restricted flow of information does not arise.

The report also maliciously omits that under the policy of “Leaving No One and No Place Behind”, the Second Republic introduced a youth quota and extended the women’s quota in Parliament.

The introduction of the women’s quota in councils is another progressive step towards inclusive participation and promotion of devolution. The new Cabinet also reflects the inclusion of the youth and women demographic dividend in the affairs of the State.

This will add value to the cause of sustainable nation-building in advancing our socio-economic development as Zimbabwe continues to protect its sovereign dignity in the community of nations.
n Dr Jenfan Muswere is the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.

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