From Rangarirai Shoko at the UNITED NATIONS, New York
SOUTH Sudan on Monday said the harmonised poll was free, fair and representative of the will of the people, and Juba looked forward to strengthening all-round co-operation with Harare now that a coherent and development-focused government was in power. President Mugabe was re-elected with 61,09 percent of the vote against 33,94 percent for his nearest rival, MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai who, together with his Western backers Britain and the US, immediately cried foul over the results, claiming vote rigging.
But the vote rigging claims were dismissed by all local, regional and international organisations which monitored the poll, including Sadc and the African Union.
In an interview with New Ziana here on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, South Sudan foreign minister Barnaba Benjamin said not only were Zimbabwe’s elections free and fair, they represented the will of the country’s citizenry.
“We had an (election) observer mission from the electoral commission of South Sudan, and they certified the elections as free and fair and representing the will of the people of Zimbabwe. This is also the view of the government of South Sudan,” he said.
“We knew and had trust that Zimbabwe had the capacity to resolve its problems internally,” he added, referring to the acrimony which surrounded the 2008 poll which prompted Sadc and the AU to broker a power sharing arrangement between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
The coalition government, which came into power in 2009, lasted a troubled five years, and ended after the July 31st poll which President Mugabe and Zanu-PF won resoundingly.
Mr Benjamin said South Sudan would now step up co-operation with Zimbabwe in various sectors “as the country had vast experience in many areas that South Sudan can tap to its advantage”.
“You have now a Government in Zimbabwe that is pan-African and focused on development, and South Sudan is keen to strengthen co-operation with it,” he said.
He singled out agriculture and health as areas South Sudan required assistance most, and said a high-level Zimbabwean Government delegation was currently in Juba exploring investment opportunities and as part of efforts by the two countries to expand co-operation.
On its prickly relations with Sudan, Mr Benjamin said Juba was engaging Khartoum in dialogue on many issues to improve the strained relations between the two countries.
South Sudan broke away from Sudan over a year ago, but relations between the two countries have been frosty over many issues, including control of oil resources and transport routes, and border security.
“We are talking, and will keep talking and hopefully the situation will improve,” Mr Benjamin said, referring to the on-off dialogue between Juba and Khartoum. – New Ziana.