“These elections are a critical test of Zimbabwe’s reform process. Given the context of past elections, great efforts need to be made to ensure public and political confidence in the 2018 polls,” stated Elmar Brok, Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission, in a press conference in Harare on Friday. Mr. Brok added: “Necessary efforts include transparency and inclusivity, confidence in the integrity of the voter roll, emphasis on secrecy of the vote and the peaceful conduct of the polls.”
The Chief Observer concludes today his first visit to Zimbabwe. During his stay he met with the President of Zimbabwe, the Chair of the Zimbabwe Election Commission, political parties and candidates, civil society and other stakeholders.
“The presence of the EU Election Observation Mission demonstrates the European Union’s commitment to the conduct of peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible elections in Zimbabwe. 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.”
“We hope the presence of EU observers can be a source of support for the conduct of credible elections Our observation focuses not only on the election day, but on the entire electoral process, including the environment for the polls, conduct of the campaign, results transmission and the resolution of any election-related legal disputes after voting has finished. In making our assessment we will consider the environment and context for the polls alongside election day itself”, said Mr Brok.
A core team of ten analysts arrived in Harare on 6 June 2018. Forty-four long-term observers arrived two weeks later and are deployed to all ten provinces to observe the process in urban and rural areas. A further forty-four short-term observers will reinforce the mission before Election Day. They will be joined by a seven-person delegation from the European Parliament, as well as by diplomats of EU Member States and partner countries, bringing the mission’s strength on and around Election Day to some 140 persons.
The EU EOM conducts a comprehensive and impartial analysis of the whole electoral process. This includes assessing the legal framework, the performance of the election administration, voter registration, candidates’ nomination, campaign activities, respect for fundamental freedoms, access to and conduct of the media, voting and the counting and transmission of results, and the period after the polls. If a second round of voting is required, the mission will remain in Zimbabwe for this.
The EU EOM is bound by a code of conduct, which requires strict neutrality and no interference in the process. The mission undertakes all its work in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and cooperates closely with national and other international observers. The EU EOM will publish its initial findings in a Preliminary Statement, which will be presented about two days after Election Day. A final report will be published within two months.