From Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia:
Concerned about the integrity of elections, the World Council of Churches Central Committee stated recently that, “…in democratic systems, elections serve as a way for people to confer legitimacy on a participatory democratic political system. In order to ensure that an election truly reflects the will of the people, attention should be paid to pre- and post-electoral mechanisms.”
Nearly one month ago on 29 March the people of Zimbabwe went to the polls to cast a vote for their future. Today they wait patiently but with growing apprehension while the Zimbabwe Election Commission continues to count and recount ballots. Each day that passes without the release of results reduces public confidence in the commission and in any results it may announce.
As the Zimbabwean people wait, there are repeated reports of organized violence against those who did not vote for the ruling party. What is happening in Zimbabwe raises new concerns that an electoral process in Africa is again being compromised by rigging and reprisals. Such actions must be stopped.
We support the call by church leaders in Zimbabwe for the United Nations and leaders of Africa and the Southern African Development Community to intervene and prevent a political crisis from escalating into mass violence. Meanwhile, a ship laden with weapons and ammunition recently purchased by the government of Zimbabwe has meandered up the coast of southern Africa in search of a port to offload its cargo. So far, Zimbabwe’s neighbours — churches, labour unions, arms control groups and governments — have succeeded in turning this particular ship away. We commend them for stopping delivery of weapons likely to be used for violations of international law. The action is a demonstration of the SADC region’s concern for arms controls. Further vigilance is needed, however, amid reports of similar arms deals destined for Zimbabwe at present.
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