ZEC challenged to invite foreign observers despite ZANU PF refusal

June 12, 2013 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

By Alex Bell

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is being challenged to have the best
interests of Zimbabweans at heart by allowing foreign observer missions in
the country ahead of elections.

This is in spite of refusals voiced by ZANU PF ministers over allowing
foreign observation teams. Robert Mugabe’s party has insisted that this will
not happen, because of targeted, restrictive sanctions still in place
against some members of the ZANU PF regime.

Diplomats from Germany and Spain have both approached the national ZANU PF
chairman Simon Khaya Moyo this week, requesting that observer missions from
western nations be allowed into the country over the elections. These
requests followed a similar plea from US State Department spokesperson Jen
Psaki, who last week urged the Zimbabwe government to allow international
observers, saying this would enhance their credibility.

The comments from the US official prompted an angry response from ZANU PF,
with party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa saying the western
superpower “can go to hell.”

“They should allow us to travel all over the world. If they are imposing
sanctions on us economically why should we allow them to come here? What do
they want when they are punishing us? They can go to hell,” he said.

Khaya Moyo then reiterated this position after meeting the German and
Spanish diplomats, saying: “Countries that imposed sanctions on us will not
observe our elections because they cannot be seen to be fair. We are very
principled on this one. We want to work with everyone but certainly not with
countries that have declared illegal sanctions on us.”

The MDC-T has since responded, stating that: “The coming elections are being
held under the new constitution which says, only the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) has authority to invite observers, not political parties.”

Political analyst and former Zimbabwean diplomat, Clifford Mashiri, said ZEC
faces a “real test now,” in deciding to either allow or bar western observer
teams. He told SW Radio Africa that ZEC should be acting in the best
interest of the country as a whole, especially the fact that “foreign
observers will help ensure there is a credible electoral process.”

Civil society groups meanwhile have petitioned the SADC leadership bloc,
calling on the grouping to, among other issues, deploy an observer mission
ahead of the elections. The petition was handed to Mozambican authorities
last week, ahead of a summit on Zimbabwe that was set for Maputo. That
summit was postponed, and it is not yet clear when it will take place.

Thabani Nyoni, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson, told SW Radio
Africa that election observers need to be deployed urgently.

“It is important that the observation process is given more time, because
having observation teams arriving only two weeks before the polls is not
enough time to properly investigate and monitor the situation,” Nyoni said.

He added that, as civil society, the Crisis Coalition also supports calls
for international observation teams to be allowed in the country.

“The elections are not a birthday party where you only invite your friends.
This is about credibility and ensuring a democratic process, and
international observers are fundamental to ensure this,” Nyoni said.


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