EU EOM Ready To Observe “Hard to Reach Areas”
27 July 2023
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By A Correspondent- The European Union (EU) says it will deploy more than 150 observers to Zimbabwe’s August 23 elections.

Brussels revealed this yesterday as it deployed the first batch of 46 observers to the country’s 10 provinces ahead of the harmonised polls.

The EU election observer mission in Zimbabwe said its team was ready to cover the “hard-to-reach areas” to impartially assess the plebiscite’s credibility, freeness and fairness.

Addressing the observers in the capital yesterday before their deployment, EU mission deputy chief observer Beata Martin Rozumitowicz urged the observers to be independent and impartial in doing their work.

Rozumitowicz told journalists at the same venue that they are maintaining a non-interference policy in the electoral process.

“We are deploying long-term observers to all 10 provinces of the country,” she said.

“They will go throughout the country, not just in Harare, but all the way down to the village level and they will go to the hard-to-reach areas.

“In the course of their duty, EU observers will meet local electoral officials, candidates and representatives from political parties, as well as civil society and media.

“They will be impartial and they will not interfere in the electoral process in the course of their work.

“They will only use first-hand and verified observation in their reporting.”

The EU team is observing the elections for the second time since 2018.

“On the election day, the mission will be supplemented across the country by 44 short-term observers, a delegation from the European Parliament and a number of locally-recruited short-term observers, drawn from the diplomatic community. This will bring the number of European observers on polling day to over 150 from 27 EU member States as well as Canada, Norway and Switzerland,” the EU said in an statement released earlier yesterday.

A core team of 11 analysts from the EU arrived in Harare on July 8.

A final report, which will include a set of recommendations for future electoral processes, will be released at the completion of the observer mission.

After the 2018 elections, the EU team made 23 recommendations, including 10 priority ones aimed at aligning the Electoral Act with the country’s Constitution, strengthening the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and improving information-sharing by the commission throughout the electoral process.

Other recommendations included escalating voter registration as well as the transparency, verifiability and integrity of the results management process and mitigation of abuse of State resources, among others.

In its follow-up mission to Zimbabwe last year, Elmar Brok, a former member of the EU Parliament and chief observer of the EU election observer mission to the 2018 general elections, said most recommendations were  ignored.

Rozumitowicz said the findings of the long-term observers would be analysed by its core team in the country.

“The chief observer of the EU election observer mission, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, will present the initial findings and conclusions of the mission two days after the elections. The mission will remain in Zimbabwe to observe the post-electoral environment and follow possible appeals and complaints,” the EU said.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa said the observers were welcome, adding that they should stick to their mandate.

“We are welcoming our observers,”  Mutsvangwa said.

“We don’t expect them to be monitors, but to be observers.”

Zimbabwe’s elections have been marred by violence, voter intimidation and allegations of rigging, leading to disputed results