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South African Traditional Leaders Send Election Observers to Zimbabwe

Among the groups that have sent election observers to Zimbabwe is South Africa’s “National House of Traditional Leaders.” The seven-member mission was invited to Zimbabwe by the government, as part of an agreement signed with traditional leaders in that country.

Chief Morena Mopeli heads the South African delegation. From Harare, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the role being played by traditional leaders.

“As traditional leaders,” he says, “we also want to play a role strengthening democracy in the countries of Africa…and one way of strengthening that democracy is also to observe democracy elections that are held from time to time are free and fair.”

Chief Mopeli says the delegation was divided into three groups, visiting more than 40 polling stations in and around Harare during Thursday morning. He says, “Since this morning, the lines have been relatively long…and the conduct of the elections was quite peaceful. There was absolutely nothing untoward that could disrupt the people or discourage the people or intimidate them.” He calls the election process “efficient.”

The mission of traditional leaders only arrived in Zimbabwe Wednesday, the eve of the elections. However, Chief Mopeli says the mission had been in the country three weeks earlier to observe conditions.

The National House of Traditional Leaders will issue a report on whether the elections were free and fair in the coming days. He says traditional leaders are very close to the people and it will mean a lot if they give their stamp of approval on the elections.