By Tariro Washinyira
A handful of Zimbabweans living in South Africa picketed outside the Zimbabwe Consulate in Cape Town on Thursday afternoon. They were demanding that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) respect the Southern African Development Community (SADC) principles and guidelines governing democratic elections. They want Zimbabwe’s elections to be impartial, free, fair and peaceful.
Zimbabwe will hold general elections on 30 July.
Placards read: “ZEC you answer to people not ZANU PF”, “Respect the SADC electoral guidelines and save Zimbabwe”.
Tendai Bhiza of PASSOP (People against Poverty and Suffering), who helped the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum (ZSF) organise the picket, handed over a memorandum to Vice-Consul Katsande, who promised to send it to the presidential office in Harare.
Owen Ziwa complained about the government’s unwillingness to allow Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote. “Staying in South Africa doesn’t take away my right to vote,” he said.
Hillary Mugari said he wished to travel to Zimbabwe for the election, but he had previously helped to organise student protests at the Midlands State University in Zimbabwe and was forced to flee his country.
“I miss my family, but the situation doesn’t allow me to go back. I should be home using my skill to build Zimbabwe but I am stuck here … I hate the way I am living here; too much hardship and little freedom, but I don’t have any choice. I hope people will be given a chance to vote for the party of their choice and that ZANU PF won’t rig the election again,” he said.
In a statement ZSF said: “The militarisation of the ZEC undermines the credibility of the election not least because of the role that the military has played in the body politic of Zimbabwe since independence. An electoral commission run by the military, that includes people directly involved in endorsing the 2008 election outcome, cannot claim the impartiality and non-partisanship so essential in an election process.”
“The SADC Treaty, in Article 5, commits the member states to ‘promote common political values, systems and other shared values which are transmitted through institutions, which are democratic, legitimate and effective’. The ZSF is concerned that Zimbabwe is in danger of violating this collective agreement, a bedrock of regional cooperation,” said the ZSF.