Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

AU gives Zim election a cautionary thumbs up

Nigeria's former president and the head of the African Union (AU) election observer team in Zimbabwe, Olesugun Obasanjo, on Friday gave the greenlight to Wednesday's election, an announcement that is further likely to place the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on the back foot.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed the election as a "huge farce". With Obasanjo's preliminary verdict that the election despite its shortcomings, was free and fair, the MDC is increasingly becoming isolated in its attempt to have the poll outcome reversed.

Early indications of results released by the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) on Thursday and Friday indicated that President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF was set for a victory against the MDC. 

Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu-PF spokesperson said: "It's the prediction that the president might likely get 70% to 75%.We think there is a sense of victory for us."

As early results trickled in on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma challenged Tsvangirai to produce evidence that the Wednesday poll had been manipulated. Zuma is the Southern African Development Community (SADC)  appointed mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis and his assessment and that of the SADC are seen as crucial benchmarks for judging the Zimbabwe poll.

"There were challenges to the poll, but it is not something we would regard as bad such that it would affect the outcome of the poll," Obasanjo told reporters at a press briefing in Harare on Friday.

The AU noted the unavailability of the voters roll to political parties and funding as key challenges to the process, which is being managed by the ZEC.

"The electoral commission could have helped to ease anxieties by making the voters roll available to all political parties concerned", said Obasanjo.

The AU in its preliminary report also criticised the electoral commission for printing 8.7-million ballot papers in an election that the registrar general's office said had only 6.4-million voters.

The 35% excess in ballot papers, the AU said, was "significantly higher than the international best practice of 5%".

"We urge to the ZEC to be accountable in the remainder of the ballot papers", it said.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Ray Ndlovu
Ray Ndlovu has been a correspondent for the Mail & Guardian in Zimbabwe since 2009. His areas of interest include politics and business. With a BSc honours degree in journalism and media studies, Ray aspires to become a media mogul.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Basic web lessons for South Africa: Government hacks point to...

Recent cyberattacks at the department of justice and the space agency highlight the extent of our naïveté

If the inflation-driving supply strain in the US lasts, it...

In South Africa, a strong trade surplus, buoyed by robust commodity prices, will cushion our economy against pressure arising from US policy

More top stories

Coups are always a bad idea – even the popular...

Why are coups happening more frequently? The most significant trend is the deepening democratic deficit across many African countries, and a corresponding decline in effective enforcement of democratic norms

Almost two million voters register for local elections

Young people make use of online portal and women account for more than half of the total registered

Free State regions cry foul after dissolution by interim provincial...

Regional ANC leaders have asked Duarte to intervene after the interim provincial committee resolved to dissolve their branches ahead of local government elections

ANC unlikely to replace Joburg mayor Matongo before 1 Nov

A party source said the ANC in Johannesburg would most likely call on one of the mayoral committee members to stand in as mayor until the local elections

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…