MDC rejects observers’ assessment

Dumisani Muleya

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is locked in a war of words with foreign observers, has officially rejected in advance widely-anticipated declarations by South Afri

can and other observers that yesterday’s general election was free and fair.


In a statement, released yesterday and titled “MDC’s preliminary report on the 2005 parliamentary election”, the opposition says the poll was neither free nor fair.


The report says the election could not be genuine given that the voters’ roll was flawed, administrative arrangements were chaotic, media access was restricted, and a hostile political climate prevailed.


It also says gerrymandering in favour of Zanu PF further tilted the already skewed playing field.


“It is the MDC’s view that the findings in this report demonstrate in unequivocal terms that the election cannot be judged free and fair,” the report says.


“If the MDC does win it will be because the will of the people has prevailed over attempts by Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF to rig the ballot.”


It says the MDC was awaiting with “keen interest the findings and conclusions of the observer missions”.


The MDC statement came hard on the heels of the party’s secretary-general Welshman Ncube’s stinging comments about observers, mostly South Africans, whom he described as “tourists”.


“The MDC received assurances from all the observer missions that they would conduct their duties in a fair, impartial and transparent manner,” the report says.


“We were assured that their final reports would be based on an objective assessment and analysis of the situation on the ground.”


However, the MDC says statements by South African observers indicated that their reports would be a whitewash.


“Comments by senior South African election observers have, however, raised suspicions that the South African mission are deliberately preparing the ground to declare the elections free and fair. We hope this is not the case,” it says.


“We trust that all observer missions will be cognisant of the findings in this (MDC) report and factor them into their own analysis of whether or not the election was free and fair.”


It further says: “Periodic and genuine democratic elections are the cornerstone of any functioning democracy. Zimbabwe does have periodic elections but they are not democratic.”


The report says whatever the outcome of the poll, “it cannot be judged to be free and fair”.


“The distorted nature of the pre-election playing field and the failure to address core democratic deficits precluded a free and fair election,” it says.


The MDC only agreed to contest the election under protest, the report says, because its supporters wanted to exercise their democratic right to vote.


“We agreed to participate on the basis that the prevailing view amongst our structures and supporters on the ground was in favour of participation,” it says. “The issue of our participation, however, does not confer legitimacy on the result.”