The European Union (EU) will be the first to send an observer team to Zimbabwe next week, ahead of the 23 August elections, which will also be observed by the United Kingdom, the United States, and their geopolitical adversaries Russia, Belarus, and China.
Jobst von Kirchmann of the EU met with Zimbabwe’s acting Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Amon Murwira on Friday in Harare, and the two signed a memorandum of understanding ahead of the elections.
According to Murwira, the EU and international observers should “observe, not monitor, the election process”.
In response, Kirchmann told the media that the EU envoy would follow the EU code of conduct, as well as Zimbabwean law.
“This election observation mission will follow Zimbabwean laws as well as the EU code of conduct. They will be strictly impartial,” he said.
This is a sign of commitment for Zimbabwe to hold credible, peaceful, and inclusive elections. This resonates with us and is the reason why we are deploying an election observer mission because we would like to contribute to a more robust electoral environment.
The EU team, like in other polls in Africa, will have 11 election experts arriving next week. They will be followed by 46 long-term observers who will arrive at the end of July and 44 short-term ones who will be in the country just before election day.
So far, 51 countries have been invited, as well as 17 international civil society organisations.
There will also be representatives from selected political parties from southern Africa.
The campaign season continues
The two front-running parties, the ruling Zanu-PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), dug deep into the country’s rural areas on Saturday.
According to Trade Economics, 67.6% of Zimbabwe’s population live in rural areas.
In the previous election, Zanu-PF enjoyed a vast majority of support in rural communities, while urban centers have traditionally been a stronghold for the opposition.
Zanu-PF was in Matabeleland South’s Bulilima on Saturday, where President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused the West of dividing Zimbabweans.
“You in Europe, come and see how Zanu-PF is loved by our people. If you close your eyes, our noise and sound, our movement and walking, and our rhythm will wake you up,” he said.
“You wish us to be divided. We shall never be divided. You can spend your money on groups in this country to bring about confusion and division, but we the people of Zimbabwe, say no. We shall remain united.”
The CCC’s Nelson Chamisa took his campaign to the rural and farming areas of Marondera in Mashonaland East.
Already on the back foot, Chamisa told those gathered that he would go to all the areas countrywide where there are double candidates and introduce those endorsed by the party.
In numerous constituencies, CCC renegades filed their papers. In 2018, such split votes handed Zanu-PF victories.
Despite isolated cases of hate speech, there has been no political violence since political parties began their campaigns last week.
Source – News24