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Once again a Zimbabwean election fails the test of credibility. However, the 2023 Harmonised Elections have failed the test so comprehensively that even reputable regional and international observers are for once in agreement that this election has failed. The main opposition and many civil society organisations have condemned the electionas have many ordinary citizens.

The only response can be to declare the elections null and void, but then what should be done?

By any measure, the Zimbabwean government since 2017 has shown no ability to reform, either politically or economically, and to create the conditions that could lead to an election that is free, fair, and credible. The coup in 2017 did not usher in a new dispensation but a continuation of the kind of governance that has led to the 2023 result.

There needs to be a new way to resolve the crisis that this election has now deepened further, and not in the way that the crisis of 2008 was managed.

The way forward must be bold and innovative, recalling the manner in which the Rhodesian crisis was dealt with. This must require the following:

  • The establishment of an Eminent Persons Group, tasked with negotiating the establishment of a Transitional Government, composed of political parties and other major citizen groupings.
  • The negotiations must be broad-based, including political parties, civil society, churches, labour, women, and other citizen groupings.

The Transitional Government should set up with a clear and specific set of reforms that must be achieved, which should include:

  • The resolution of the coup and the amendment to the Constitution allowing untrammelled military interference in civilian affairs.
  •  Full adherence to constitutionalism, the rule of law, and human rights.
  • The reform of critical state institutions.
  • The stabilising of the economy, with a pro-poor emphasis.
  •  The establishment of a sovereign fund to ensure the country benefits from Zimbabwe’s bountiful resources.
  • Complete overhaul of all the election machinery and legislation to ensure that the election that follows the period of the Transitional Government will lead to an election that meets regional and international standards.

This is the only way forward to resolve the crisis, and we call on ALL Zimbabweans, in the country and in the diaspora to support this petition, and we call on SADC – through the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security – the AU, and the international community to support and scaffold this.

Ibbo Mandaza & Tony Reeler

SAPES Trust Co-Convenors (PCC)


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