The SADC Chairman and President of Angola João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço on Tuesday, 31 October, commended Zimbabwe and Eswatini for conducting general elections in an “orderly manner”, saying it is a major victory for democracy.

The SADC Election Observer Mission to Zimbabwe said the elections fell short of meeting the requirements of SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, while in Eswatini, political parties are banned. But in his remarks during the virtual Extraordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government held today, President Lourenço said Zimbabwe and Eswatini were “exemplary” in the manner they conducted their elections.

He said: "Your Excellencies, allow me to congratulate President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe and His Majesty King Mswati III, the King of Eswatini, for the exemplary elections that were recently conducted in your countries. The tranquility and orderly manner in which they took place constituted a major victory for democracy and a significant contribution to peace, stability, and harmony among all living forces of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Kingdom of Eswatini."

Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono said that President Lourenço’s remarks are not surprising as “SADC leaders have perfected protecting each other’s sham elections.” Chin’ono said probably with the exception of South Africa and Botswana, “SADC elections are disputed and have different levels of rigging, that is why we should expect nothing from SADC.”

He added: "So essentially SADC endorsed the shambolic Zimbabwean election even calling it exemplary. I repeat again, let us not rely on populist propaganda that we know not to be true, let us normalise wanting to hear what we should hear not what we want to hear. I repeat again, the cure for Zimbabwe’s shambolic election lies within Zimbabwe, SADC and even ECOWAS only come when there is a crisis.

A rigged election is not considered a crisis because they all rig elections with the exception of South Africa and Botswana. In our case it is even worse, South Africa openly supports ZANUPF, and nothing serious happens at SADC without South Africa’s endorsement. Our political actors should focus on viable solutions that are real and practical and not fairy tales."