The Sunday Mail
Over 6 000 local and foreign election observers have fanned out across Zimbabwe ahead of tomorrow’s harmonised elections.
Accreditation is ongoing.
As of Friday, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had accredited 5 541 local election observers, while 600 observers representing regional and continental bodies and states are also on the ground.
Government invited 46 countries and 15 multilateral bodies, including erstwhile adversarial bodies, to observe the elections.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised that this year’s elections will be free, fair and credible.
Among the institutions that have already deployed are the European Union, Sadc and the African Union.
Zec acting chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana told The Sunday Mail that they had also accredited 488 local and 46 foreign journalists.
“The observers are already on the ground; they are deploying using their own itineraries in all the provinces and districts. How they deploy is not up to Zec. We are here to ensure that they can execute their duties through providing relevant information,” said Mr Silaigwana.
“We have given them the contacts of all our offices at provincial and district level so that they can get all the assistance they may need while they are on the ground.
“So far, we have not received any complaints of any observer who has been obstructed for going about their duties and we are hopeful that it shall remain as such up until they withdraw.
“We have also trained our district election officers and all the people we are deploying on how to provide relevant assistance to the observers so that they can do their work without undue hindrances.
“For their security, we have given them information regarding the locations of police stations and how they can get assistance in cases where their security could be threatened.
“But so far we are happy with how we have been working with the various observer missions that have been deployed; they have even been attending some of the meetings we are having and that goes to show how far open our process is.”
While The Sunday Mail could not establish the countries and bodies that had deployed by last week, those invited include all 15 Sadc member states and all members of the European Union bloc.
The Russian Federation, Belarus, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey were also invited.
From North America, Government invited the United States, Canada and Mexico; while Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela were invited from South America.
From Asia, Government extended invitations to China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Palestine, South Korea and Thailand.
Cuba, Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Barbados are some of the countries from the Caribbean that are expected to observe the polls. They are joined by Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea from Oceania.
Regional liberation movements the ANC (South Africa), Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Tanzania), Frelimo (Mozambique), Botswana Democratic Party, and MPLA (Angola) will also observe the polls.
The Sadc Parliamentary Forum and Comesa were also invited, while international organisations, including the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement will be on the ground.
The African Union Commission and the Pan-African Parliament will also observe the elections, alongside the EU Commission and EU Parliament.
Over and above that, the African-Caribbean-Pacific Bloc and ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly are also in Zimbabwe for the polls.