The Sunday Mail
Government has put in place the appropriate foundation to deliver on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pledge of free, fair and credible elections, a top United Nations official has said.
United Nations Development Programme Administrator and UN Development Group Vice-Chair Mr Achim Steiner yesterday expressed confidence in preparations and pledged continued support to Zimbabwe.
After meeting President Mnangagwa in Harare yesterday morning, Mr Steiner said all areas of contestation around the electoral process would be ironed out through proposed inter-party dialogue and imminent amendments to the Electoral Act.
President Mnangagwa will invite political parties to a round table to discuss how best authorities can conduct an uncontested election.
Parliament is in the process of amending the Electoral Act to align it to the Constitution and the demands of a biometric voters roll.
Mr Steiner was in Zimbabwe to discuss how the UN could provide elections’ support as well as help rebuilding the national economy.
He was accompanied by UN Resident Co-ordinator in Zimbabwe, Mr Bishow Parajuli at yesterday’s meeting.
Said Mr Steiner: “I wanted to get a sense of whether the preparatory steps that have been taken so far are progressing and are also in line with the President’s call for a high litmus test, a high test (election) that not only (and) must be seen by the public and also the international community as free, fair and credible election.
“And the steps taken so far I see every reason to believe that that process is progressing. I think there will be issues around communication, there will be issues around about the technicalities in the actual holding of the election and these are now subject of discussion among the parties.
“And also an important step will be the revised electoral law that will be in line with the constitution again that is in Parliament and I think an important signal will be the adoption of this new electoral law because it will give confidence to Zimbabweans that there will not be court challenges and that the procedures and steps being taken to hold the election are in line with the constitution.
He added: “I want to thank His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe. I have now completed two days of very intense meetings with leaders in Government and civil society, commissions that have been set up by the Constitution.
“I have met with political leaders across the spectrum of parties. So for me this visit was to gain an impression of the preparatory process of the elections …
“I conveyed to His Excellency that I believe the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the biometric voter registration, these are good steps that are laying the foundations for what he has called for, and that is a free, fair and credible election.
“This was, therefore, part of our discussion this morning in which the President laid the next steps that he envisages towards a very significant moment which is the election itself.
“Our task around the world is to serve nations and serve our member states when they need us so we stepped up when the biometric voter registration became a priority for the Government and we are very pleased with the work that has been done so far,” said Mr Steiner.
“We have supported it to the tune of US$10 million; I have signalled to His Excellency and also to the electoral commission that we stand ready to provide additional assistance when needed.
“There will be issues that will be discussed among the parties over process and procedures in the coming weeks and it is critical that we support the process because clearly the integrity of the election is fundamental to the credibility and also to the confidence that Zimbabwe will have in its outcome.
“I can also say with confidence that since UNDP support for elections, over 30 national elections on average a year. We have the technical and practical means to support Zimbabwe’s electoral process leading up to the election later this year.”
On support for the economy, Mr Steiner said: “The second reason why we are in close discussion is why United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme are actively engaged in Zimbabwe today which is the economy; its the livelihoods of the citizens of Zimbabwe and the Government’s aspiration to accelerate the recovery of the economy.
“Zimbabweans know the difficulties they are facing today and clearly there is great hope and expectation in the way that the envisaged economic recovery process through engagement of international development partners but also investments from abroad and within Zimbabwe’s economy.
“Our discussions this morning centred also on some of the steps and also the offer of support that I have made to the nation over the coming months and year to assist in the economic acceleration and recovery process.”