Zimbabwean activist casts doubts over credibility of July elections

ZIMBABWEAN activist Evan Mawarire has cast doubts over the regularity of the upcoming presidential elections in the Southern African nation.

Mawarire who faced the court for attempting to overthrow Robert Mugabe, spoke at a human rights summit in Geneva,Switzerland.

‘They are individuals who, within their own party, have done nothing but rig the elections, used violence and intimidation and it is hard for me to believe that in two months they have been able to reorganize their entire system,’Mawarire was quoted by AFP as saying.

He added, ‘I think we are coming to its first 100 days and many questions remain about structural changes in law, the rule of law, democracy and human rights. They talked a lot about business but very little about individual liberties.’

Emmerson Mnangagwa, a key figure in the former regime, took over leadership of Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe’s forced resignation in November. He scheduled a presidential election for July.

Mawarire was instrumental in the anti-Mugabe movement that shook the country in 2016

He was released at the end of November last year.

It is uncertain if the 40-year-old pastor is thinking about politics, but he has ruled out any potential candidacy for the next presidential elections.

In a related development, the  African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat has said the AU will offer technical support to help Zimbabwe conduct polls set for mid this year.

‘The AU stands ready to support Zimbabwe in the electoral process. A team from the AU will be coming to Zimbabwe to work with the organisation responsible for elections,’ Mahamat said at a joint press conference with foreign affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo at the end his three-day visit to the country late February.

He said the AU will mobilise partners to offer financial and technical support for the elections which come after a peaceful transition of power last November.

Former President Robert Mugabe resigned in November last year after a military intervention and was replaced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mahamat hailed the peaceful transition and said as part of its responsibilities, the AU will offer technical support to the transitional government to ensure peace and stability in the country.

‘The transition was publicly supported by the people of Zimbabwe so we are here to support the authorities,’ he said.

During the visit, Mahamat, who was accompanied by the AU commissioner for political affairs Minata Samate Cessouma, met Mnangagwa, some cabinet ministers and paid a courtesy call on Mugabe. Cessouma held discussions with officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Mahamat said he exchanged views with Mugabe who explained to him the reasons why he resigned after 37 years in power. Mugabe, he said, told him that he had resigned to ensure peace and development of Zimbabwe.

Mahamat said he had taken stock of the situation in Zimbabwe as well as assessing the country’s preparedness to hold the upcoming elections.

‘I am generally satisfied with the visit and discussions we have had and also the authorities of Zimbabwe have committed themselves to various actions to open up the political and democratic space to ensure that free, fair, transparent and credible elections are organized in the country,’ he said.

Moyo said the AU chair noted that the successful holding of free and fair elections would help end Zimbabwe’s isolation and unlock assistance from the international community.

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