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Contradicting views on Zimbabwe elections
Posted: Saturday, April 2, 2005

The election observer team of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) today gave a generally positive assessment of yesterday's general elections in Zimbabwe, saying they were "peaceful, credible and dignified." The opposition however protests, and is supported by the British government, saying the polls were "seriously flawed."

South Africa's Minister of Minerals and Energy, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who leads the SADC election observer mission, today issued a statement generally positive on yesterday's polls in Zimbabwe. Ms Ngcuka in the statement extended SADC's "congratulations to the people of Zimbabwe following the holding of a peaceful, credible and dignified election."

SADC's 55 election observers had been deployed throughout the length and breadth of Zimbabwe in both rural and urban areas during the last two weeks. With regard to the polling process, it was SADC's overall view that "the elections were conducted in an open, transparent and professional manner," Minister Ngcuka said this afternoon.

The polling stations had opened and closed at the appointed times and SADC observers were "impressed by the orderliness and patience of voters, who we believe, were able to express their franchise peacefully, freely and unhindered." The picture that emerged at the close of poll was "an election day, which was peaceful." As counting continues in various polling stations, SADC was "convinced" that the process would be transparent.

The Southern African observers only had registered some minor irregularities. The SADC mission was "concerned with the number of people who were turned away from polling stations." Further, although there had been efforts to ensure equitable access to the public media, "there is still considerable room to improve in this area to allow the access to the state media by the opposition," Ms Ngcuka noted.
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