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IMBISA

INTER-REGIONAL MEETING OF THE BISHOPS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA


ASSOCIAO INTER-REGIONAL DOS BISHOPS DA AFRICA AUSTRAL IMBISA CENTRE 88 BROADLANDS ROAD AVONDALE, HARARE. TEL NO: (+263-4)336775/336908 P.O.BOX EH 99 EMERALD HILL HARARE, ZIMBABWE FAX: (+263-4)336909

Lusaka, 9th May 2013

IMBISA PRESENTATION TO ZAMBIA EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE IMBISA has formed a committee of Bishops to monitor elections in the region. The same committee is tasked with lobbying and advocacy for free and fair elections in the region. So far the committee has visited Mozambique, South Africa and your country. We will be visiting other countries as well. Thank you for having us. In our current visits we have spoken mainly about Zimbabwe, which will soon hold its national elections. We are now all familiar with how controversial elections in Zimbabwe can be. This time, however, there is a concerted effort to come up with credible elections to enable the country to move ahead beyond the current crisis. This is the reason why we too are here, to ask you to lobby your government to help Zimbabwe realize free and fair elections. Among the major events in our country we must mention the agreement that was reached on a new National Constitution and its approval in a national referendum. This is an important step for the country which can now prepare the way for necessary reforms and the holding of harmonized National elections. Recently on 9 and 10 April the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference held its Plenary meeting, to which you were invited. The theme was, The Challenges of the New Evangelization in the Context of Zimbabwe Today. In his opening address the President of ZCBC, Bishop Angel Floro, cited Africae Munus number 174 which says that Evangelization, today takes the name of Reconciliation, an indispensable condition for instilling in Africa justice among all, and building a fair and lasting peace . Reconciliation, Justice, Peace, these are what we are looking for in our beloved country. We want political stability that gives rise to economic growth and well being of our people. We believe that free and elections are the key to the resolution of our

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crisis and so are asking you to please lobby your government to positively influence Zimbabwe to do the following: 1. Institute reforms in line with the Global Political Agreement and the New Constitution before Elections We are aware that SADC and the AU, are guarantors of the Global Political Agreement, are major stakeholders in determining the conditions and framework of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe and must be continuously consulted. The Global political agreement mentions electoral, media and security sector reforms which still have to be implemented. Could your government help ensure that this is done prior to the next elections. 2. Help Guarantee the security of the vote, the security of the voter and the security of the outcome of the vote All Zimbabweans must vote in peace without intimidation, victimization, violence or being forced to attend a political meeting of this or that party. No bases and vigilante groups in our villages, suburbs or communities. The peoples will needs to be respected and guaranteed. This will involve addressing issues relating to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that it be impartial and not partisan. We visited your Electoral Commission here last year and were impressed by its professionalism. Please help us establish the same for our country. 3. Inclusive invitation and accreditation of election observers six months before and after the election Accreditation must be done in terms of the SADC guidelines on elections whose purpose is to ensure total transparency of the electoral process as opposed to other parochial and partisan considerations which do not serve that purpose. The observers must be invited without bias or partisan considerations. 4. The code of conduct for Political Parties In its recent pastoral letter, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference asks that the Code of Conduct for Political Parties crafted by the Organ for National Healing and Reconciliation be made compulsory, that is, it must be made law with accompanying penalties for defaulting parties to create a conducive environment for free and fair elections. The major stumbling block to the implementation to the above already agreed reforms remains a palpable deficit of political will to implement agreed issues,

without which we are likely to reproduce electoral contestations and a disputed outcome. We were impressed by your last elections here and the role played by the Church. That is also the reason why we are here to learn from you, not only about the conduct of elections but also to help us position our Church and the country for the post election period, which we are praying will be a good one. But then we have become so used to adversity we need to re-learn what to do in good times to help in nation-building.