Through election observation process, the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries strives to assist fellow Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to identify areas requiring strengthening, areas requiring improvement in elections management and opportunities for sharing best practices and lessons learnt. In line with this spirit , the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC) deployed an election observation mission to the Republic of Zimbabwe for the August 23 -24th Harmonised Elections. The delegation was drawn from 10 member Commissions namely Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South- Africa, Zambia and Zanzibar.
The ECF-SADC Election Observation Mission was led by Mr. Mphasa Mokhochane, Chairperson of Independent Electoral Commission of Lesotho and he was deputised by Dr. Elsie Nghikembua, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Namibia & ECF-SADC Executive Committee Chairperson. ECF-SADC Missions are led by member commissions on rotational basis.
Prior to the election period, ECF-SADC conducted a pre-election assessment mission to Zimbabwe in preparation for the Election Observation Mission from 22nd to 26th May 2023. The primary objective of the pre- election assessment mission was “to technically assess the preparedness of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to hold credible elections”.
In addition, the Mission also made an assessment on the extent to which the recommendations by the ECF-SADC Observer Mission as outlined in the Preliminary Statement of the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC) on the Harmonised Elections of the Republic of Zimbabwe held on 31st July 2018 have been implemented.
At the conclusion of the observation Mission, the ECF-SADC issued a Preliminary Statement on the Harmonised Elections of the Republic of Zimbabwe held on 23rd August 2023. The Preliminary Statement covers the Mission’s observations of the pre-election period and polling day activities. The Mission’s comprehensive final report to be released in 30 to 60 days , will cover observations of the pre-election, polling and results management and will include overall assessment of the entire electoral process and recommendations.
In its final preliminary statement, the Mission concluded that the 2023 harmonised elections were conducted within a context shaped by the legal framework which largely constrained the technical and operational aspects of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commissions’s work. The Mission, however, acknowledged the efforts of the ZEC to propose reforms that were not adopted ahead of the 2023 elections.