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SADC closes door on Zim’s fresh poll calls

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) appears to have closed the door on calls for fresh elections in Zimbabwe after the regional bloc’s secretariat endorsed a project being spearheaded by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

The African Union also threw its weight behind the multi-million-dollar Museum of African Liberation in Harare after a meeting with Mnangagwa’s special envoy, ambassador Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

Mnangagwa’s regime is the prime backer of the project that is being implemented by the Institute of African Knowledge (INSTAK).

Last week, both SADC and the AU signalled that they will work with Mnangagwa’s government on the project.

Critics have decried this as “sanitising Mnangagwa’s illegal regime”.

Of particular concern is that the Sadc Election Observer Mission, flagged several electoral irregularities, and — along with other international observer missions — fell short of labelling the poll outcome illegitimate.

On January 25, 2024, Mumbengegwi was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to meet the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

He delivered a message from Mnangagwa seeking the AU Commission’s support for the Museum of African Liberation project.

Mahamat said the AU Commission was eager to collaborate on the project.

Four days later, Mumbengegwi — who is a former Foreign Affairs minister — was at the Sadc headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana, to discuss a similar memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the bloc’s executive secretary, Elias Magosi.

“Magosi highlighted that the project resonates with the region’s objectives, among others, the operationalisation of the mechanism to recognise and honour the founders of Sadc for their contribution to the establishment of the organisation and pursuit of regional integration,” an official report on the Sadc website said.

The report continued: “In this regard, further engagements regarding the project and MoU, as well as follow-ups, will be conducted between Sadc and INSTAK in collaboration with the Zimbabwean embassy in Botswana.”

The endorsement of Mnangagwa’s administration indicates the bloc has put the Zimbabwe election issue to bed, and is preoccupied with advancing ties.

This will dampen the mood in the opposition movement that was pushing for a poll re-run despite analysts saying the move was unattainable.

Reacting to the developments on micro-blogging site X, journalist and Mnangagwa critic Hopewell Chin’ono said: “Well, Sadc is engaged on Zanu PF regime things fellow compatriots. The executive secretary of Sadc met with Mnangagwa’s envoy, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi to talk about, wait for it, the Liberation Museum being built in Harare.

“Do you still believe the lies that Sadc is coming to deal with the shambolic electoral issues?”

The majority of responses to the post lamented that Sadc had “abandoned” the people of Zimbabwe; while others pointed out that the bloc had no legal basis on which to order and supervise fresh elections.

According to results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Mnangagwa secured 52,6% of the vote against Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa’s 44,03% in a poll many observers said was chaotic.

Chamisa rejected the election results and launched a diplomatic offensive while pushing for fresh polls.

According to results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Mnangagwa secured 52,6% of the vote against Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa’s 44,03% in a poll many observers said was chaotic.

Chamisa rejected the election results and launched a diplomatic offensive while pushing for fresh polls.

He has since ditched the CCC which is, however, in disarray with rival factions engaged in fierce fights over luring him to return to the party.

The party has also been torn apart by infighting among the leadership.

Chamisa stepped down from the CCC presidency after losing control of the party to self-imposed interim secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu who has been on a spree recalling legislators and councillors saying they have ceased to be members of the political party.

Newsreport

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