Ecumenical observers challenge Zimbabwe election results

 The 29 March elections in Zimbabwe were "far from being free and fair" and were "skewed in favour of the incumbent who openly utilised state resources to his advantage," two ecumenical bodies said in a report on the election. The Zimbabwean people "expressed their will on polling day" and that will must be "upheld and respected" the report said. For that to happen it is necessary for the "immediate and unconditional release of the [election] results to pacify and unite the country", the report says. It was compiled by the joint observer mission sent to Zimbabwe by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC). Among other ways in which the 29 March elections were being thwarted, the report mentions "violence, intimidation and outright confrontation", as well as the government use of food as a "political tool" and media bias in favour of the government. The report "calls on the ecumenical family to continue to uphold the people of Zimbabwe in their prayer and to remain in solidarity with them in the post electoral period". The current scenario in the country "creates a dangerous vacuum that could lead to total disintegration of the nation as well as threaten the unity of the church". Although the Zimbabwean churches have been "outspoken in promoting and entrenching a transparent governance structure that is sensitive to the plight of the Zimbabwean populace", they nevertheless "have not spoken with one voice [nor] do they seem to read from the same script over the years", the report affirms. Today, churches in Zimbabwe need to "contend" with the way they are "divided along political lines", and "seriously consider the best approach to the impasse, especially how to handle the post election period". There is a growing need, says the report, for the churches "to speak and be heard, and to give leadership to the people of Zimbabwe". The WCC/AACC mission report states that a number of difficulties, including "unnecessary delays and selective scrutiny" affected its work. As a result of the government's "lack of commitment" to "promote transparency in the elections", the joint mission members, "like other church-based organizations, were denied accreditation [as observers] without clear reasons". Source: WCC

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