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SA observers head to Zimbabwe ahead of elections

by Vivian Warby
on 05 Jun 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

A preliminary group of South African observers will head off to Zimbabwe this week ahead of the country's presidential run-off elections, according to Minister in the Presidency, Aziz Pahad.

The minister said the numbers of observers to Zimbabwe had increased substantially and by 27 June the South African Development Community (SADC) observers would also be in place.

SADC observers will not only be observing the voting but intervening where there are acts of violence in an attempt to disrupt a free and fair election process.

SADC observers will ensure that conditions are created where "even the opposition would be happy," said Mr Pahad.

Despite skepticism, said Minister Pahad, no one had challenged the Presidential elections held in March.

Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change, just fell short of gaining a straight majority leading to a run off elections. The results of the March elections were withheld by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for weeks.

Minister Pahad said following allegations of violence in Zimbabwe in the run up to the elections, President Thabo Mbeki had dispatched senior South African retired generals to assess the situation in the country and to report back to him.

When asked about the arrest of MrTsvangirai for a few hours, Mr Pahad said everyone was committed to the fact that the rule of law must prevail in Zimbabwe and that the will of the people must be reflected in the elections.

It was the task of facilitators to put a stop to activities that hinder the will of the people, he said, adding that all allegations would be followed up by the facilitation team in Zimbabwe.

The minister said South Africa's agenda was to insure that Zimbabwe would again be part of the SADC strategic programme of action.

Minister Pahad said a total of 31 organisations and countries would be there to observe the run-off elections. - BuaNews

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