'Elections will need Western observers'

HARARE - Zimbabwe's forthcoming national elections will require international validation if to be seen as credible, free and fair, UK envoy to Zimbabwe said yesterday.

Deborah Bronnert was briefing journalists in the wake of declarations by Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi that Western observers will not be invited ostensibly because their objectivity is compromised by sanctions imposed on one contestant to the election.

“Inasmuch as it is the prerogative of the government of Zimbabwe to invite observers or not, the country’s elections will need a series of observers from across the world to authenticate its electoral process,” Bronnert said.

“Obstacles to election observation will call into question the credibility of the poll but we will not put invitation to observe as a requirement for funding the process.”

After meeting visiting Swedish minister of International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson earlier on Monday, Mumbengegwi told reporters: “One cannot observe anything in a country that they are hostile to.
 The level of hostility is measured by the relationship those countries have with Zimbabwe and clearly those countries that have imposed sanctions on us will not be here.

“To be an observer, you have to be objective and once you impose sanctions on one party, your objectivity goes up in smoke. If you are not objective, you are not entitled to observe elections anywhere and that is the situation with those Western countries.”

“I do not see why they need to be invited when they have never invited us to monitor theirs,” he said.

“Of course Sadc, Comesa and the AU will be here and also those countries that are friendly to us. Those coming already know and as for the elections we will only invite them once we have an exact date.”

However, Bronnert said they had not received official communication from the Zimbabwean government that the door has been shut on their observers.

“We are getting different messages from different parties in the coalition government,” she said.

“While Zanu PF ministers are saying we are not allowed to observe the polls, the MDCs are willing to let us observe and monitor the elections and that is what we have been getting.

“They could invite independent institutions that have been proven to be credible and do not always agree with their host countries on policy. We have these in the EU and they have a proven track record of observing elections.”

The British envoy extended her country’s condolences to the Maisiri family following the death of Christpower in an inferno in Headlands some 10 days ago.

She also raised concern about the harassment of civil society organisations and escalating violence.

“We are very concerned by this and other incidents,” Bronnert said.

“We hope all Zimbabwean parties can be clear that violence is not acceptable. Zimbabweans deserve better. We are also concerned about arrests, detentions and harassment on dubious charges of civil society organisations as well as undue force against peaceful assemblies,” said Bronnert.

“In terms of conditions for a free, fair and credible poll we are not yet there. It would be good if the police use the vigour and we know they have lots of it like they used in confiscating shortwave radios to investigating the Headlands murder.”

Bronnert said reports of seizures of shortwave radios from Zimbabweans and the raid on Radio Dialogue offices in Bulawayo were unacceptable saying that “the confiscated radios have always been a source of information to rural folks since before independence”.

The UK ambassador said targeted measures imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle over the issue of human rights abuses after the disputed 2002 presidential election will be reviewed again after the constitutional referendum this month.

“After the referendum there will be a significant review of the targeted measures based on how the constitutional referendum would have proceeded. Zimbabweans must be given their democratic right to vote without fear or intimidation.

“The issue of targeted measures is regulated by an EU legal instrument and individuals are removed from the list based on current information on the level of their participation in undermining democratic processes or aiding such processes,” Bronnert said.

She said there are around 90 individuals now remaining on the targeted measures list following the annual February review and the removal of some names was a political statement of intent by the EU to encourage consultation and  engagement with Zimbabwe. - Staff Writer

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.