Britain to observe Zimbabwe elections as part of the EU mission

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and British Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin

THE United Kingdom will participate in the European Union Electoral Observer Mission which will be deployed to Zimbabwe to monitor the electoral process in the coming election Minister of State Harriett Baldwin said this week.

Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016 but is only doing so in March next year.

Baldwin told the House of Commons that Britain has consistently called for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe and has regularly engaged with actors across the political spectrum to discuss how best the international community can support Zimbabwe’s democratisation process.

“Most recently, our ambassador in Harare met President Mnangagwa on 5 May and the Foreign Secretary met MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa on 9 May to discuss these points,” she said.

She was responding to a question from Labour legislator Kate Hoey on what plans the Britain has “to help ensure that elections due to be held in Zimbabwe in 2018 are conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner”.

Baldwin said besides engaging with the political actors, it is spending £24 million between 2014 and 2019 on civil society support for transparency, accountability, human rights and citizen engagement in Zimbabwe, much of which will help support democratisation.

This includes an increase of £5 million announced in February specifically to support election-related work.

Britain has been accused of propping Mnangagwa in the coming elections with one of the opposition leaders Tendai Biti complaining about why the United Kingdom government had granted Zimbabwe business a loan of $100 million.

But Britain has been giving aid to Zimbabwe throughout but not through the government.

Figures released by Baldwin this week showed that Britain had given aid totaling £459 million to Zimbabwe over the past five years through its Department for International Development.