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29th May 2013 Ref 008/2013

The Inter Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) visits the Zambian Episcopal Conference.

Picture: IMBISA and ZEC delegations

The IMBISA Election observation team continued its tour of the region when on 9th May 2013 it visited Zambia to meet with the Zambian Episcopal Conference (ZEC). The IMBISA delegation is visiting countries asking for support in ensuring that the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe are free, fair and non violent. Bishop Alexio Muchabawia of Mutare, Zimbabwe shared IMBISAs concerns and hopes with the ZEC delegation stating that “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 crisis and so are asking you to please lobby your government to positively influence Zimbabwe.”

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The Bishops requested that ZEC lobby the Zambian government to ensure that:   The Global Political Agreement be upheld and all the electoral, media and security sector reforms in the document be fully implemented. The security of the vote and the security of the outcome of the vote is guaranteed. Bishop Muchabawia said “All Zimbabweans must vote in peace without intimidation, victimisation, violence or being forced to attend political meetings of this or that party”. Election Observers are invited without bias or partisan considerations and that Observers are accredited for six months before and after the election. 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.

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The meeting was also an opportunity for the Bishops to learn from Caritas Zambia who had conducted a successful election observation mission in the last Zambian elections. In which almost 20,000 observers were recruited, trained and deployed. In all 90% of polling stations were reached which was acknowledged by the IMBISA delegation as a fantastic achievement. In a subsequent interview with the Southern Cross newspaper, Bishop Jose Ponce de Leon said that the Bishops of ZEC were behind the whole process and very supportive of the IMBISA Election Observation Team. He added the process of election monitoring was very demanding stating that “It requires being involved before, during and after the elections, developing training material, helping in the registration of voters, being involved in the review of the „code of conduct‟ and most of all identifying monitors”. IMBISA Communications

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