Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Political analyst comments on elections observer mission

Botswana’s Zimbabwe elections observer mission delegation was a huge embarrassment and a money wasting exercise, says political analyst, Professor Zibani Maundeni.

Maundeni said this in an interview with the Sunday Standard that Botswana surprisingly sent a huge delegation, bigger than that of SADC and that of the African Union (AU). He said this can only explain that this country had funds to splash around.

Maundeni, who was once on the expert team of the AU that went to assess the pre-election situation in Sudan in 2009, explained that international standards demand that a pre-election team of experts (about three experts) should precede any observer mission.

“Some countries use their embassies (to cut costs) for the purposes of a pre-election expert mission whose findings should be used to determine whether there is need for a large or small mission, or whether there is need for an observer mission at all,” explained Maundeni.

Maundeni added that if the pre-election mission finds that everything about the pre- election is in order, it becomes an indicator to the country intending to send a mission that it need not send a large mission.

But if the pre-election expert team finds a chaotic situation that is likely to degenerate into violence, he said, this becomes an indicator to the country or organisation planning to send an observer mission that a large mission is required.

The Professor of Political Studies at the University of Botswana said no serious violent incidents had been reported in the pre-election period in Zimbabwe. He said, therefore, it was inappropriate for Botswana to send a huge mission for an election that did not need it.

Maundeni said a ridiculously huge mission observing a peaceful and incident free election saw every small incident as major. He said this could partly explain why the Botswana mission claimed to have observed things that no other mission saw.

“Botswana was bound to make mistakes in its findings,” he said.

Maundeni also said as part of an expert team of the AU that went to the pre-election situation in Sudan in 2009, their findings informed the AU as to how big the observer mission should be. Maundeni said it is not clear whether any such instrument was used in Botswana’s case.

Some Zimbabwean media reports said Botswana observer mission was funded by the European Union, an organisation that Zimbabwe newly sworn in President Robert Mugabe loathes, saying they are against him and his regime.

When interviewed by Sunday Standard, government spokesperson Dr Jeff Ramsay dismissed claims of Botswana’s elections observer mission being funded by the European Union.

He said Botswana funded her own mission. However Ramsay would not reveal the amount that was used by Botswana’s mission.

“Our mission was not that big…it was even smaller than that of South Africa. We did not receive any funding from outside. People are just talking, without having facts,” said Ramsay.

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