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Global Witness Urges SADC to Investigate Zimbabwe's Polls

Jul 31, 2013 8:31 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... As residents of Zimbabwe hit the polls today in the country's presidential election, Global Witness  called upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to fully investigate claims that President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party is attempting to rig voting in his favor, again.

Global Witness warned that there is strong evidence to suggest that ZANU-PF has secured a huge sum of cash from the country’s diamond mines in order to finance undemocratic tactics, including tampering with the electoral roll. The group contended that  none of the democratic reforms that were agreed to in May  in the  constitution have been undertaken, including an overhaul of Zimbabwe’s partisan security sector, and there has been a growing crackdown on civil society organizations and human rights defenders.

There have also been allegations by Mugabe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that an Israel-based firm, Nikuv,  is working with the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to tamper with the electoral roll. However, Nikuv  denied the allegation to Global Witness. Nonetheless, the MDC contended that Nikuv was not being paid with public money for their services.

“Global Witness has serious concerns that diamond money could influence the outcome of Zimbabwe’s elections,” said a senior campaigner, Emily Armistead. “Having secured diamond revenues as a source of off-budget funding, we believe ZANU-PF could be using the cash to ensure the election goes its way.”

Global Witness has already exposed links between some of the mining companies operating in the diamond-rich Marange region of Zimbabwe and members of the military and other ZANU-PF insiders. Its research in 2012 also revealed that a Hong Kong-based businessman, Sam Pa, donated $100 million to the CIO  in exchange for diamonds and other business opportunities in the country.

As guarantor of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement, SADC has major role to play in deciding whether Zimbabwe’s elections are viewed as credible by the international community, according to the group.

“As long as there’s no blood on the streets, SADC seems willing to give this election a stamp of approval. But in doing so, it would ignore the widespread intimidation and vote-rigging which appears to have taken place already. SADC must step up to its mandate and be prepared to take a stand against ZANU PF if the vote appears flawed,” said Armistead.

Results of the elections are expected by August 5.

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Tags: diamonds, election, funding, Global Witness, Jeff Miller, mugabe, sadc, Zimbabwe
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