HARARE – Head of the European Union elections observer mission to Zimbabwe Mr Elmar Brok has hailed the commitment by the Zimbabwean government for peaceful, credible elections as they will unite the people of Zimbabwe and ensure that the peace prevailing in the country will be maintained even after the polls.
Mr Brok made the remarks when he paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa today.
The Head of Mission was accompanied by his Deputy Mr Mark Stevens and European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Phillipe Van Damme among other EU officials.
President Mnangagwa formally invited the EU, Commonwealth and a host of other foreign election observers as well as SADC and African Union observers.
The EU and the Zimbabwean government have since signed a memorandum of understanding outlining guidelines for election monitors.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Mr Brok said he is optimistic the elections will be free and fair.
This year marks the first time in 16 years the EU bloc will be sending monitors to Zimbabwe, after the 2002 incident which saw the head of delegation Mr Pierre Schori being expelled on the eve of presidential elections.
This month’s general elections are a key determinant of Zimbabwe’s future, the European Union (EU) has said.
In a statement announcing the appointment of Elmar Brock a Member of the European Parliament, as chief observer of the EU Election Observation Mission to Zimbabwe, Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/vice-president of the European Commission said the incoming government has the unenviable task of steering the country’s transition.
“These elections will be key for the future of Zimbabwe. The future President, Parliament and Local Government councils will have the responsibility of steering the transition process in the country. Zimbabweans can count on the strong support of the European Union and of the international community.
“Its stability and economic growth are key for the entire region and for the European Union as well. I am confident that the mission under the leadership of chief observer Elmar Brok will make an important contribution to this electoral process,” Mogherini said.
In accepting his appointment to head the EU’s first observer mission to Harare for the first time in 16 years, Brok said the elections present Zimbabwe with a chance to strengthen its democracy.
“I feel honoured to lead the first EU election observation mission to Zimbabwe in 16 years. These elections, to be held under a new electoral framework, represent an important step in the country’s political transition. The 2018 elections are an opportunity to strengthen Zimbabwe’s democracy and it is important they are peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible.
“The EU EOM is here to observe in an impartial and professional manner and I am confident that this mission can make an important contribution to enhancing further the quality of the electoral process,” Brok said.
Former President Robert Mugabe’s frosty relations with the EU forced him to shut the western block, arguing they were out to enforce regime change in Harare. But his successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa has invited over 46 countries and international institutions to observe the polls set for July 30 as he seeks to take the country on a different trajectory from Mugabe’s isolationist policies.
Mnangagwa’s wish for a peaceful, credible, free and fair election was rocked at the weekend after a bomb blast at a rally he addressed in Bulawayo left nearly 50 people injured.
The attack has left the country on edge but Mnangagwa has declared he is not moved and elections will go ahead as scheduled.