Let’s be wary of observer reports


THE suggestion that election observer missions sit together to scrutinise and debate each others’ reports, making corrections where necessary before publication, could be useful in making this exercise genuinely reflective of the poll process.
This suggestion is one of the recommendations by The African Cause Trust (TAC), an indigenous observer group, in its final report on the July 30 harmonised elections.
For, if one reads the reports of SADC, the African Union, TAC and COMESA against that of the European Union (EU) and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), one would be tempted to think the groups observed two completely different elections.
And it looks like the main reason is inherent bias by some of the observer missions.
No wonder at one time some observer missions, known to have their own prejudices, were prohibited from participating.
Suffice to note that we are now past that era.
But that’s no excuse for the EU to boldly declare that the recent harmonised elections, whose conduct was widely acknowledged as a shining example for the rest of the continent, failed to pass the credibility test. However, some of the reasons cited could easily have been dropped if there were a get-together where preliminary findings of each mission were debated.
For instance, TAC disputes claims by the EU that the playing field was uneven.
This is in a campaign where the MDC Alliance leader and his campaign team were able to touch every corner of the country unhindered, something that had never happened before.
EU claims about the denial of media coverage of opposition parties by the state controlled television are grossly exaggerated.
TAC argues that divergent political views were given media space including live broadcasts of election manifestos and court proceedings of the MDC Alliance poll results challenge in the Constitutional Court.
TAC also reminds the EU that ZEC was given up to five days after polling to announce the presidential polls and not three.We are convinced these and many other points, on which the EU seems to have misfired, could have been clarified through a no-holds-barred joint scrutiny of all the reports by the various missions before publication.
The EU report, which looks like it was pulled from MDC Alliance grievance pages, can be very dangerous.
As it is, it looks like political upstarts like MDC’s Nelson Chamisa are emboldened by such reports to claim that he won the elections.
He is even going to the extend of mobilising his gullible supporters for a ‘massive’ demonstration to remove President Emmerson Mnangagwa from office.
The young man seems to be itching for violent confrontation, hoping this will earn him the keys to State House.
That’s the height of appalling naivety.
Unbeknown to him is that general elections are held only after five years.
Yet this is a man who, just three months ago, trailed President Mnangagwa by over 300 000 presidential votes.
Not only that.
His party has a paltry 63 seats in the House of Assembly to ZANU PF’s 145.
A bleaker picture in the game of numbers is with the councillors, where Chamisa’s MDC has 570 councillors countrywide out of a possible 2 000.
So, let’s be wary of some of these election observer mission reports.


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