Southern African countries said Monday they found it “very difficult” to declare Zimbabwe’s elections fair, thanks to Robert Mugabe’s monopoly on state media and problems with the electoral roll. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission which observed the July 31 election declared the poll “credible” but stopped short of calling it fair. “On the question of fairness, it’s very difficult to say everything was fair,” SADC election observer Bernard Membe said in the capital Harare as he summarised his report. The 15-member regional body reiterated its call for sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States against Zimbabwe to be lifted, saying they actually helped Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. “Sanctions cannot be used as a tool for winning elections. As long as sanctions are there, this ZANU-PF will prevail for another 100 years,” he said.
Mugabe began another five-year term in office, his seventh, on August 22 after beating his rival Morgan Tsvangirai in the disputed poll.
Tsvangirai, who became prime minister through a power-sharing agreement with Mugabe negotiated by SADC after deadly post-election violence in 2008, called the vote a sham.
The body endorsed Mugabe’s victory this year because “there were so many other elements that, when put together, elevated the election to a credible status”, said Membe.
Full Article: AFP: ‘Difficult’ to call Zimbabwe vote fair: regional bloc.