BY Miriam Zvomuya
In its assessment of Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) Deputy Chief Observer, Mr. Mark Stephens said most aspects of the plebiscite did not meet international standards.
“As such, many aspects of the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe failed to meet international standards. We recommend that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should be independent.
“However, the Zimbabwe 2018 Elections were competitive with 23 candidates contesting for the presidential seat. In other countries independent candidates are not allowed to contest”.
He also said that there was political freedom in the country as political parties held their rallies peacefully and they had freedom of speech to convince voters besides the attack of the top table at Bulawayo rally where President Mnangagwa was addressing.
Nevertheless, Stephens recommended that political parties should disclose the amount they spent during campaigns. He encourages political parties to explain their budgets to their members.
For ZEC to execute its duties effectively, it should be independent so as to produce credible election results, Stephens told journalists at a press club meeting held in Harare. He added that while the state media was biased on its coverage of the elections, private media tried to balance its news.
He encouraged the government should liberalise the media sector and offer licenses to those who want to invest in the sector
The EUEOM team was in the country for the past three months, before, during and after elections observing the atmosphere in Zimbabwe. Thus they came up with a compilation of negatives and positives of the elections.