By Taka Shambare
Harare (New Ziana) – The United Nations on Tuesday rubbished claims by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa that it was in talks with his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party to supervise the country’s general elections next year to ensure transparency and fairness.
An official of the world body told New Ziana that the UN only made such arrangements in special circumstances, and exclusively in agreement with a member country’s government, not individual contesting political parties.
Further, UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Zimbabwe, Edward Kallon said, the world body required a mandate from either the UN General Assembly or its Security Council to supervise elections in a member country.
Chamisa, who has a propensity of disputing election results he or his party lost, has in recent weeks claimed the CCC was arranging UN supervision of Zimbabwe’s general elections next year.
He made the latest claim at his party’s campaign rally in Chinhoyi at the weekend.
But Kallon said UN supervision of a member country’s elections was not something the world body did ordinarily, with the last such exercise carried way back in 1989 in Namibia when the country gained independence.
“UN electoral supervision requires a mandate from the General Assembly or the Security Council. It has been undertaken in the context of decolonization, and at the request of the relevant government,” Kallon said in response to questions from New Ziana.
“The most recently UN supervised elections were in Namibia in 1989 in a peculiar context.”
Buttressing Kallon’s response, information on the website of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) of the UN states that; “Requests for electoral assistance can be made by the head of government or the minister of foreign affairs of the UN Member State. In some circumstances, requests from other entities such as a ministry involved in the planning and implementation of the election or the electoral commission may also be considered as acceptable. Requests for electoral assistance made by groups within the legislature, political parties, civil society or other entities cannot be accepted.”
“Electoral observation, once a core activity in early United Nations support, is now rare, and technical assistance has grown exponentially,” reads part of the DPPA website.
Kallon said technical assistance was now the most common type of support rendered to member states.
“The United Nations provides different types of electoral assistance. Technical assistance is the most common form of support provided to Member States.
“In Zimbabwe, UNDP has been providing support to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission since 2016, through the ZIM-ECO (ZEC capacity-building) project, which provides technical support to the electoral process in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Some of the scenarios under which the UN can get a General Assembly or Security Council mandate to supervise or observe elections in a member state is when that country is coming out of a war situation, which Zimbabwe is not.
According to the DPPA, other forms of electoral support including observation are also now very rare, and require a mandate from the General Assembly or the Security Council.
As such, Chamisa’s claims confirm concerns by many observers over his immaturity which regularly manifests itself in wild claims whenever he sees an audience.
He was famously embarrassed on BBCs HardTalk for lying that he held a meeting with former US President Donald Trump before the 2018 elections, during which he promised the opposition party billions of dollars if they got into power.
After he lost the last presidential vote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2018, Chamisa unsuccessfully tried to overturn the result in court.
His party was also accused of stirring up post-election riots on two occasions in which several people died.