Improved political climate, inclusive participation rights and a peaceful vote, but unlevel playing field, intimidation of voters and lack of trust in the process undermined the pre-election environment. This is how the EU EOM (European Union Election Observation Mission) Chief Observer Elmar Brok, Member of the European Parliament, characterised the electoral process up to now.
“These elections were seen as a critical test of Zimbabwe’s reform process. In some senses, up to this point, the conduct of the polls has had a number of positive features, but in other senses serious concerns remain. Now we hope for a transparent results process,” said Mr Brok.
The Chief Observer highlighted the positive election campaign, during which political freedoms were respected. He also highlighted the peaceful and enthusiastic participation of Zimbabweans on Election Day as they exercised their right to vote.
But he expressed strong concerns regarding some of the pre-electoral practices, such as intimidation of voters, ZEC’s lack of transparency in preparations, media bias and some problems around polling stations on election day.
Mr Brok said: “For Zimbabwe to embrace democracy and move on from the past, such practices must stop.”
He stressed: “It is imperative that the results process is credible and transparent, with a full breakdown by polling station so that confidence in the outcome can be assured. It is also imperative for all parties to await the final result and to remain peaceful throughout. The process must be credible and transparent, then whoever wins this election, Zimbabwe can move on, and the people of Zimbabwe can be the real winners.”
The Head of the delegation from the European Parliament, Mr Manuel Neuser, added: “These elections are a crucial step – but only a step – in Zimbabwe’s reform process. Elections are not an end in themselves, but an important part of a process of change. People have high hopes for the future and, regardless of who wins, it is the duty of political leaders to work to improve the lives of all citizens.”
The EU EOM has been present in Zimbabwe since 6 June, with a deployment of a core team in Harare and 44 long-term observers in all of the provinces of the country. On the day of the election the EU had some 140 observers, from all 28 EU Member States, as well as Canada, Norway and Switzerland.
The EU Election Observation Mission also included a seven-person delegation from the European Parliament as well as diplomats of EU Member States accredited to Zimbabwe. The EU will follow any legal disputes which may arise. A Final Report will be presented some two months after the end of the electoral process.
The entire statement is available on the EUEOM website: www.eueomzimbabe2018.eu