Britain says no signs for Zimbabwean free and fair elections

Lord Robert Hayward
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THE British Parliament has expressed concern over the lack of signs that Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections would be credible, saying there was a shortage of meaningful political, economic and human rights reforms.

Speaking in the House of Lords Friday, Lord Robert Hayward, who was an observer at the country’s last general elections, questioned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) capacity to provide an uncontested poll, referencing the 2018 one.

“My Lords, reference has already been made to the elections in 2018; the report was pretty damning, particularly in relation to the events after the general election in 2018.

“Can my noble friend ensure that very strong representations are made to the electoral commission, because it has been lamentable in any action.

“It was before the 2018 election, and there is no sign that it will enforce any form of free and fair elections next.”

ZEC has been at the centre of rigging allegations brought up by opposition officials and civic society organisations, which feel the commission was captured by ruling Zanu PF.

They have raised issues with ZEC’s failure to provide the voters roll, secrecy and military influence as a sure sign President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his party would be handed power next year.

Lord Zac Goldsmith expressed hope the UK government would exhaust all options in ensuring credible elections in the southern African nation, next year.

Goldsmith, who was responding to Hayward, noted UK was banking on Mnangagwa’s desire to rejoin the international community of nations, particularly the Commonwealth.

“My Lords, we will use whatever leverage we have to maximise the chance of free and fair elections.

“We know that President Mnangagwa wants more engagement with the UK—that is clear—and in many respects we want him to have that too.

“However, deeper re-engagement with the UK will require meaningful political and economic reform and respect for human rights and the rule of law in line with the President’s own stated commitments when he took office.

“The former Africa Minister reinforced that message when she met the President last year at COP.” – Newzim