US top official speaks on Zim poll

HARARE - United States envoy Matthew Harrington has expressed mixed feelings over the progress made by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration towards creating a conducive environment for free, fair and credible elections on July 30.

Harrington, who is the acting deputy assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, and was an election observer in the disputed 2002 presidential poll, is one of the officials who recently visited Zimbabwe.

Speaking on the Zimbabwe Service’s call-in live talk show, he said in comparative terms to what is obtaining in the country 15 years later, he viewed Zimbabwe “with a sense that it was really a mixed picture”.

“I served in Zimbabwe from 2000 to 2003. Was an observer in the 2002 election and saw how problematic that election was, so I’m well aware of the challenges that Zimbabwean elections had in the past. This time, I left (Zimbabwe) with a mixed impression,” Harrington said.

The veteran diplomat said while there was some notable progress in terms of commitment to a free and fair election on Mnangagwa’s part, there were still concerns that need to be addressed before the poll.

He noted that some critical issues have not yet been addressed by the government, which indicates the political will to conduct elections that show a radical departure from what was done by the previous administration of former president Robert Mugabe.

“I think there has been a lot of concern around the transparency of the voters’ roll,” said Harrington.

On the positive developments, he singled out Mnangagwa’s pledge that he is willing to deliver an election whose outcome will not be disputed.

“There are some positive things that are happening. The president’s commitment to hold a free and fair election and to invite international groups, we commend him for that. There are observer groups that are already on the ground doing important work and I think that openness and invitation to international scrutiny is a very good thing,” said Harrington adding also that “on the positive side of the ledger is that opposition parties seem to be able to campaign freely without the intimidation and harassment that we have seen in the past and that is a good thing.”

Harrington noted that some civil society organisations and opposition parties are concerned about the transparency of the procurement, printing and securing of ballot papers.

America, he said, was convinced only a free and fair election in the country is the road to legitimacy for any government that is going to emerge.

He said he was briefed by several government officials, representatives of civil society groups and opposition parties, and businesspeople about the prevailing situation on the ground when he visited Zimbabwe.

“Ultimately the legitimacy of whatever government emerges from the election at the end of July that legitimacy will come from the Zimbabwean people and the confidence that they have in the process and not the international community and so everything that government can do to build that trust among the Zimbabwean public in the process they are to do.”

He said America wants to have a different relationship with the Zimbabwean government after imposing targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle for alleged voter fraud and human rights abuses.

“We see Mugabe’s departure as an opportunity for Zimbabwe to set itself on a different path than it has been on in the past politically and economically and what we are looking for really is the opening of economic and political space for Zimbabweans to be able to express their opinions freely without harassment, for their views to be expressed in elections, for a business environment to be created that attracts international investment.”

Harrington’s assessment of the situation on the ground comes hard on the heels of American legislators and representatives of several organisations who also recently visited the country on a fact-finding mission.

The officials have also expressed optimism about preparations so far although they, like Harrington, stressed that a lot still needs to be done in order for transparent polls to take place.

United States Congressmen Senator Jeff Flake and Senator Chris Coons and several others are some of the officials who have been in the country ahead of the July 30 polls.

Comments (25)

So basically if ihe was to give a score Harrington woulg give it an 95%? is it that bad? considering the remaining 5 would have been reaped off by Chamisa and Biti's lies

Django Django - 1 July 2018

This election already has credibility in the international space

Tinokunda - 1 July 2018

So with all this criticism being leveled agnst ZEC, ED and the whole electoral environment, If the MDC wins would you still discredit your win?

Sankara - 1 July 2018

nhai va obsever, hino mukatanga kutaura kudai erekisheni racho risati raitwa munoda tigodii? ED has done a lot for us Zimbabweans

Riot263 - 1 July 2018

we are grateful that he noted developments especially the commitment of ED to held free and fair elections

Dzimbabwe - 1 July 2018

I like that the US sounds almost completely agreeing that they have never witnessed an election this free and fair on Zimbabwean soil. ED haan kunakawo here hama

Dombo Rakaomarara - 1 July 2018

with the level ED has castigated corruption and other eels you be supporting him... saka paari kuwinner 30 july mucharamba zve

Hondo Zvenyika - 1 July 2018

Its our hope that by the time we reach 30 july he will be fully impressed

blade - 1 July 2018

Paanoti there are still transparency concerns, im sure those are not his views, he is simply saying some pple like Chamisa still have concerns..iye ati aona zvakarongeka uyu

Chamisa Neria - 1 July 2018

ndimi matuma kaChamisa kuenda ku israel kunoronga rigging imi.. we know you support him but lets the will of the people prevail

Samora - 1 July 2018

the most important thing is that we are going to vote for mature leadership

panda - 1 July 2018

chii chaanoziva pama mixed feelings uyo.... Zimbabweans have embraced the new dispensation well and its very transparent.. EDhas the people

Aladin Aladin - 1 July 2018

haaa zvema disnyongoro izvo, if he has mixed feelings ndezvake.. isu tikufamba na baba ED mune zvakanaka and we strongly support him

Virus Vigoroso - 1 July 2018

ED has made striding efforts towards creation of an enabling environment in Zimbabwe

april tafi - 1 July 2018

poor contribution there.. ZIm is on track and ma elections will be conducted in a peacefull and transparent manner

Kamba - 1 July 2018

chikuru kufema mweya hwehutongi ZANU PF woyeeeeeee

madikizela - 1 July 2018

mukadzi wa Chamisa anombonzaniko?

Cde Masango - 1 July 2018

Kana kuti ndomaonerewo akewo. You know views can always be subjective and relative. But the reality hayo is so far so good

Kokerai Chisvo - 1 July 2018

There is peace in Zimbabwe, there is freedom. these are some of notable changes which allows free and fair elections

white - 1 July 2018

What we are sure of is that,Zimbabwe is inn safe hands with ED

dombo - 1 July 2018

THIS IS WONDERFUL. ED has proved his commitment to democracy

FLAME - 1 July 2018

Dont worry Zimbabwe, the election is coming free, fair and credible

Murenga - 1 July 2018

@ Ndugu Masango, mukadzi waTjamisa ndofunga anonzi Zodwa!

Norman Gwaze - 1 July 2018

Any person would have done the same if not more than what Ngwena has done after taking over from a ruthless old dictator called Bob.What difference does it make to stop rigging through violence and intimidation and rig the elections through manipulating the voters roll? The results that the achieve are the same.They would have still rigged and stolen the elections.Why is Zanu pf and ZEC so much afraid of just implementing the reforms wholesomely if they are really to be taken serious.Shuwa ungati mazuva ano hatichauraya nebanga tave kuuraya nepfuti?Haticha rigger ne violence tave ku rigger ne ballot paper?Shame to those who think ED is really serious and only the naive will buy such lies.

Luke Munya Mabika - 2 July 2018

Those who say the want mature leadership , how long these people were in power? Now we need new blood with new ideas so that our country which was stack for past 37 years can eventually start to move forward

Ncelo chimutashu - 3 July 2018

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