Over 60 foreign observer missions invited for elections

02 Jul, 2023 - 00:07 0 Views
Over 60 foreign observer missions invited for elections

The Sunday Mail

Emmanuel Kafe

FORTY-SIX countries — including the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom — as well as 17 continental and regional bodies, have been invited to observe the August 23 harmonised elections, in fulfilment of President Mnangagwa’s pledge to usher in a transparent, free and fair election.

In addition, all 51 embassies and nine consulates accredited to Zimbabwe have received invitations for accreditation to observe the polls, marking a departure from the previous arrangement where only diplomats accredited on a full-time basis observed the polls.

Several political parties drawn from the region have also been invited.

The authorities say the invitations are in line with Government’s drive to re-engage the international community and President Mnangagwa’s call for a credible and violence-free election.

The President has, however, said the foreign missions are being invited to “participate as observers, and not as monitors”.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesperson Mr Livit Mugejo confirmed the development.

He said: “Please, note that the ministry doesn’t invite individuals to come and observe our elections.

“Nonetheless, the ministry has invited all 15 SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries; the African Union (AU); the Pan-African Parliament; COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa); African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP); European Union (EU); the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM); and the Commonwealth.

“We have also invited several countries in Europe and the Americas such as Russia, Belarus, the UK, USA, as well as many from the Caribbean, the Pacific and Asia.

“The ministry also invited several liberation movements such as the African National Congress (ANC), Chama cha Mapinduzi, and the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO).

“Also, note that all diplomatic missions accredited to Zimbabwe will be accredited to observe our elections.”

This will be the second consecutive election where Government has invited observer missions from the US and the EU, which had not observed Zimbabwe’s elections since 2002, before being invited to witness the 2018 polls.

The EU has already confirmed the deployment of an observer mission set to

arrive in Harare this week, led by Mr Fabio Castaldo, a member of the European Parliament.

In a statement last Thursday, EU representative for foreign affairs and security policy Mr Josep Borrell said: “The deployment of an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) to the general elections in Zimbabwe shows the EU’s commitment to support democracy and the rule of law.

“Under the leadership of chief observer Castaldo, the EU EOM will contribute to enhancing citizens’ trust in the process and to further strengthening Zimbabwe’s democratic institutions.

“The Zimbabwean authorities have expressed their commitment to credible, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections.”

Mr Castaldo added: “On the basis of an impartial and objective assessment of the election process, we hope to continue working with the Zimbabwean authorities after the elections to encourage the implementation of the observation mission’s recommendations.”

The core team of the EU EOM will consist of 11 election experts before the deployment of a team of 46 “long-term observers” towards the end of this month (July).

Another team of 44 “short-term observers” are scheduled for deployment closer to election day.

The mission is expected to issue a preliminary statement after the elections, before publishing a final report.

Writing recently for this publication, President Mnangagwa said foreign observers should not come with preconceived notions about the country’s electoral processes.

He said: “Government will ensure those invited to observe our elections get their invitations in ample time to make that exercise meaningful.

“No foreign power is a stakeholder in Zimbabwe’s electoral processes; this is why foreigners come in by invitation, and participate as observers, and not as monitors.”

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