Zimbabweans must choose a new government in the national election on 23 August.
To date, however, this process has been marred by the banning of opposition party rallies, violence against activists, the detention of opposition politicians without trial and “the bias of the hijacked Zimbabwe Electoral Commission”.
The DA says it is necessary for South Africa to intervene to ensure that a “free and fair” election is held in Zimbabwe, as such an election is also in South Africa’s best interest.
Emma Louise Powell, the DA’s spokesperson for international relations and cooperation, says she is going to write to min. Naledi Pandor requests that election observers be deployed earlier so that the electoral processes in this country can be monitored earlier and more closely.
“The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) principles and guidelines governing democratic elections allow for early deployment, which is why it must be done immediately,” she says.
Powell says it has come to the DA’s attention that the leading opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has had its campaign rallies arbitrarily banned.
The opposition politician, Job Sikhala, has been detained without trial for more than a year and his right to apply for bail has also been taken away from him.
“The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission has been hijacked by Zanu-PF, further darkening the prospects of a free and fair election,” says Powell.
“It is clear that none of the previous election recommendations by the observers of SADC or the African Union have been implemented.”
At the time, it was recommended that the unfair coverage of opposition parties by state media be stopped, transparency be promoted and the full voter list be published in a timely manner.
“Less than two months before the election, participants in the election still do not have access to the complete electoral roll,” says Powell.
The DA argues that the recent introduction of legislation such as the Patriotism Act restricts the right of Zimbabweans to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
The Private Voluntary Organizations (PVO) Amendment Bill, awaiting the president’s signature, also prohibits political lobbying by non-governmental organizations, which would make surveillance of the presidency by civil rights organizations nearly impossible.
According to Powell, Fikile Mbalula, secretary general of the ANC, recently lashed out at Zanu-PF’s main opposition, Nelson Chamisa, calling him a “puppet of the West”.
“Mbalula’s statements weaken South Africa’s credibility as a possible mediator in the event of a dispute after the election,” she says.
“As long as the ANC government protects the Zanu-PF regime, South Africa will also continue to pay a heavy price with the influx of refugees from Zimbabwe.”
Over the past two decades, South Africa has been flooded by refugees from Zimbabwe fleeing a collapsed economy and health system. This placed unnecessary strain on South Africa’s own powers and fueled conflict in communities.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi already wanted to stop the influx of refugees, or even send some of the refugees back to Zimbabwe, but this decision was recently declared unconstitutional by the High Court.