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CSOs in Tanzania push to monitor referendum and elections

CSOs in Tanzania push to monitor referendum and elections

As a follow up to the meeting held on Monday, 26 November 2012, with LHRC, the joint civil society delegation met the Tanzania Civil Society Consortium of Election Observation (TACCEO) director, Advocate  Merick Luvinga, where possibilities of organising an early regional civil society team to monitor and observe the referendum and elections in Zimbabwe were discussed. Advocate Merick   Luvinga pledged solidarity with Zimbabwe CSOs and emphasised the need   for Tanzania CSO support and other regional CSOs to influence Zimbabwe's democratisation process and mobilise regional solidarity.

 

The joint civil society delegation urged TACCEO to convince its government and SADC that Zimbabwe's watershed election should be subjected to election observation by all interested stakeholders and for the invitations to come months before the elections. The joint civil society delegation acknowledged some positive changes in Zimbabwe's amended electoral act. However, the delegation emphasised the need to address a number of impediments which include a controversial voters' roll, stringent voter registration requirements, legislative reform as well as political violence, characterized by a clampdown on human rights defenders and CSO leaders.

 

The meeting agreed that election manipulation is not restricted to the voting day but it is a problem in the pre-election and post-casting period. Hence it was important to get observers six months before and six months after the election. The meeting emphasised that it would be important for a regional civil society team to monitor and compile early warning reports. The referendum was cast as an opportunity for civil society organisations in SADC to test Zimbabwe's preparedness for a general election.

 

TACCEO committed to work closely with other civil society organisations in Tanzania and the region such as Action Support Centre to demand early observation and monitoring of the referendum. They mooted an idea to produce observation reports on the referendum, with areas for improvement for the general election. The credible civil society referendum reports are then to be used to lobby the facilitator, SADC Troika, SADC full summit and the African Union (AU).

 

'It is our belief as Tanzanian CSOs that it is only through constant engagement as well as regional collaboration and lobby on the Zimbabwe question that Zimbabwe can be able to have a free, fair and peaceful election in line with the SADC Electoral guidelines and whose outcome will be fair and transparent', concluded Advocate Luvinga.

 

Zimbabwe Civil Society will continue to pressure SADC to convince the Zimbabwe inclusive government to allow observers and monitors on time so as to make the election credible.

 

A brief with the Mozambique High Commissioner to Tanzania

The  joint Zimbabwe-South Africa civil society delegation in Tanzania visited the Mozambique High Commissioner to Tanzania and the First Secretary of the commission earlier yesterday, 27 November 2012, where the delegation expressed serious concern and sadness on reported tensions and political uncertainties in Mozambique which threaten peace and stability not only in Mozambique but in the region.

 

The delegation wished Mozambique a speedy and peaceful resolution to the looming crisis and expressed solidarity with the people of Mozambique. The joint civil society delegation noted that problems in the region have to be addressed holistically, as from the days of the liberation, if lasting peace and stability for the prosperity of Africa is to be reached.

 

On Zimbabwe, the delegation raised the need for Mozambique and SADC to play a more pro-active role in ensuring that Zimbabwe holds a free and fair election so that there can be peace, democracy and stability in the region. The delegation said that it was important for SADC member states to heed early warning calls from civil society so as to avoid regression into authoritarianism or into war.

 

The joint civil society delegation further emphasised that instability and conflict can be prevented if African governments can act swiftly in preventing conflicts. Consequently, they called for a SADC early warning team that can monitor political developments in Zimbabwe and report accurately to the regional body which will also automatically act as a deterrent to perpetrators of violence within the country.

 

The delegation further highlighted to the Commissioner and his team that Zimbabwe provides an opportunity to prove that Africa can successfully realise a peaceful resolution to a political crisis, and this is important for Mozambique as a member state and as contemporary SADC Chair.

 

The Mozambique High Commissioner's response was encouraging. He promised to write a report from our deliberations and communicate with the Mozambique government in Maputo.

'Africa needs development and stability and we will communicate this message with our government', he said.

 

Zimbabwe Civil Society continues to urge SADC to keep focused so that Zimbabwe can have a successful democratic transition and become a model for the region and continent and make us a proud African people.

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