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In-Depth Analysis: SADC Electoral Observation Mission’s Preliminary Findings on Zimbabwe’s 2023 Elections

Brian Kazungu



Dr. Nevers Mumba, Head of SADC Electoral Observation Mission, presenting the preliminary findings on Zimbabwe's 2023 Harmonized Elections.

In a significant development, Dr. Nevers Mumba, the Former Vice President of Zambia and the current Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), has unveiled a comprehensive preliminary statement on Zimbabwe’s 2023 Harmonized Elections. This report not only delves into the electoral process but also highlights key findings and outlines actionable recommendations for enhancing future elections in Zimbabwe.

Mission Objectives

Deployed in accordance with the revised 2021 SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, the SEOM consisted of 68 observers. These individuals were strategically stationed across Zimbabwe’s ten provinces with the overarching goal of fortifying democratic electoral processes within this SADC Member State.

Key Observations

The Political and Security Landscape

While the SEOM reported a generally peaceful atmosphere during both the pre-election and voting phases, it also pointed out concerns raised by voters. These concerns primarily revolved around the delayed arrival of ballot papers and administrative inefficiencies at certain polling stations.

The Voting Experience

According to the SEOM, 64% of polling stations commenced operations punctually, but 36% experienced delays. These setbacks were mainly due to the unavailability of ballot papers for local authority elections, which consequently dampened voter turnout.

Regulatory Compliance

The SEOM emphasized that the elections were conducted under the purview of Zimbabwe’s Constitution and Electoral Act. However, it also noted discrepancies that did not align with the stipulations of these legal frameworks.

Recommendations for Improvement

The SEOM has put forth several recommendations aimed at refining the electoral process:

  1. Transparency in Voter Registration: The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is advised to adhere strictly to constitutional provisions regarding transparency and public access to the voter’s roll.
  2. Nomination Fee Revisions: To foster a more inclusive political environment, ZEC should reconsider the nomination fees for electoral candidates.
  3. Media Neutrality: Regulatory bodies must enforce impartiality in political coverage, particularly in state-owned media outlets.
  4. Procurement Transparency: ZEC needs to enhance transparency in the procurement and distribution of voting materials.


While the SEOM’s observations indicate a largely peaceful and orderly electoral process, there were notable shortcomings that failed to meet constitutional and legal standards. The SEOM is expected to release its final report following the validation and proclamation of the election results.


Preliminary Statement by Dr. Nevers Mumba, Head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission to the 2023 Harmonized Elections in Zimbabwe.

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