Deputy minister of international relations and cooperation Jenelly Matundu has defended president Hage Geingob for congratulating Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa on his election victory last month.
Matundu made these remarks in parliament on Thursday, while responding to questions by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Maximalliant Katjimune recently.
Mnangagwa was declared the winner of the Zimbabwean presidential elections by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in August after scooping 52,6% of the votes.
However, the SADC Observer Mission declared the elections as having been inconsistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, their Electoral Act and the SADC principles and guidance governing democratic elections.
In her response to Katjimune’s questions on why Geingob congratulated Mnangagwa while the SADC Observer Mission declared the elections as having been inconsistent with the constitution of Zimbabwe, Matundu said as per the diplomatic standard and practice, Geingob has to congratulated his counterpart after election results.
“It is essential to clarify that the official opposition, the Citizen’s Coalition for Change (CCC), did not lodge any case with the Electoral Court. In any democratic system, legal avenues are available to address election-related grievances,” Matundu said.
“It is the responsibility of the concerned parties to pursue these avenues should they have concerns about the electoral process,” she said.
According to Matundu, in the absence of any court challenge, president Mnangagwa was inaugurated on 4 September, which she said is in accordance with the relevant constitutional provisions.
“It is worth noting that Electoral Observation Missions are not aimed at affirming or nullifying election results, but are geared at enhancing accountability, transparency and participation as core tenets of democratic processes in the region,” she said.
She said SADC Electoral Observation Missions remain an important element for the consolidation of democracy in the region.
Katjimune also asked whether Namibians should be concerned ahead of the 2024 presidential and National Assembly elections in Namibia since the government supports rigged and flawed elections like Zimbabwe.
Matundu responded that “the government remains committed to upholding a high standard of transparency, accountability and good governance including in the context of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security cooperation under which Namibia currently serves as a member”.
She said Namibia has institutions that protect the rights of individuals including their votes.
Responding to Katjimune’s question on why Geingob and the government keep supporting despotic regimes, like the one allegedly in Zimbabwe, that do not not align with values and ethos of Namibia, Matundu said Namibia and Zimbabwe enjoy cordial relations that have been nurtured over the years.
“We share common values of regional peace, stability and socio-economic development. The harmonised elections are an essential part of Zimbabwe’s democratic journey and we applaud their commitment to democratic governance,” she said.
Matundu said the African Union, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Commonwealth, European Union and the SADC Election Observation Mission found that the people of Zimbabwe conducted themselves in a peaceful, orderly and exemplary manner.
“The SADC Election Observation Mission also found that the political leaders spread the message of peace and non-violence throughout the electoral cycle,” Matundu said.
She said that it is up to the people of Zimbabwe, just like in Namibia, to improve any area which may require improvement.
“We believe in the importance of constructive dialogue and cooperation among member states to address any challenges and strengthen the democratic institutions within our region through established institutions, systems and processes,” Matundu said.