Zimbabwe elections 2018: Why was the EU observing Zimbabwe’s elections?

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ZIMBABWE elections are now drawing to a close as results have declared a win for incumbent Nelson Mnangagwa. This year’s elections are the first since 2002 that UN and EU observers have been able to attend, but what do they do?

Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections are the first not to feature long-time president Robert Mugabe as major candidate.

The move means that the political landscape in Zimbabwe has seen a shift, as two new candidates take centre stage.

Current Prime Minister and candidate for Mugabe-created Zanu-PF Nelson Mnangagwa, ran against core opposition Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance.

The Electoral Commission has declared Mnangagwa as the winner, but the process has received criticism from the EU Observer Missions to the country.

This week’s election is the first time observers from major international bodies have been invited see the process in 16 years.

The EU has said the observers are sent over to the country show “long-term commitment to support credible, transparent and inclusive elections worldwide”.

A selected team of 10 observers went to Zimbabwe until the completion of the election process, and will prepare a report on their findings.

The observations are in place to “make an important contribution to enhancing further the quality of the electoral process”, according to Chief Observer Elmar Brok.

Zimbabwe elections 2018 results EU Observation Mission
Zimbabwe elections 2018: Why was the EU in Zimbabwe? (Image: GETTY)

After his first visit to Zimbabwe, Chief Observer Brok met with the President of Zimbabwe, the Chair of the Zimbabwe Election Commission, political parties and candidates.

The Observers are brought in to advise and critique the election process, and help proper representation of the people of Zimbabwe.

Chief Observer Brok said: “The EU wishes to accompany Zimbabwe in its transition to satisfy the legitimate expectations of the Zimbabwean people and stands ready to engage further if the appropriate conditions are met.

“Elections are, in this regard, an essential step in a long and challenging reform process.”

Zimbabwe elections 2018 EU Observer
A team of observers are expected to create a report on Zimbabwe’s election process (Image: GETTY)

What did the EU observer mission find?

A statement from an observer spokesman was released yesterday, which touched on both the election process and the conditions surrounding it.

The observer statement said: “The elections were competitive, and overall political freedoms were respected during the campaign.

“Nevertheless a number of shortcomings were observed, including the lack of a truly level playing field.

“While the conduct of voting was well organised, it is now important that the final results are shared in a manner which provides for full transparency and accountability, including a breakdown by polling station.”

European Union Election Observer 2018
European Union Election Observers talk to the public about the elections (Image: GETTY)

The mission also mentioned in its statement that the violence during the elective process was “unacceptable”.

It said: “Following the shootings and violence that have in the past day already claimed lives of several people, we appeal for calm and restraint on all sides and for protests to be conducted according to the law.

“Violence is completely unacceptable and we express our sympathy to the victims and their families.”

The Election Observation Mission is scheduled to remain on the ground in Zimbabwe until the entire process has finished.

Following this, a full report will be released which will include recommendations for strengthening the electoral process.

Additional reporting