Felex Share, Harare Bureau
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is walking the talk on reforms and anyone who wins Monday’s harmonised elections would have done so freely, the Association of Free Research and International Cooperation (AFRIC) said yesterday.
AFRIC is a community of independent researchers, experts and activists from countries such Germany, Ukraine Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Cape Verde, Mongolia, South Africa and Mozambique.
The organisation has 43 observers who are in the country for the polls.
Some of them have been in the country for 40 days to assess the pre-election environment.
AFRIC head of delegation, Professor Jose Matemulane said the environment was conducive for credible polls as the pre-election atmosphere had been non-violent.
“We have been in the country for 40 days and moved around the country and the assessment is good,” he said.
“It is peaceful. I felt the security. It is not about seeing it but also feeling it. I can’t even compare with other countries but for now it is one of the safest places to be.”
He said from their assessment, President Mnangagwa was sticking to his promises of a free, fair and credible election.
“He is walking the talk for sure,” said Prof Matemulane.
“Some of the measures and policies he announced are being implemented. Zimbabweans now have a chance to figure what they need through the ballot. Zimbabweans are waiting for this moment.”
Prof Matemulane said they were in the country to “balance the informational space bringing impartial and reliable opinions free of speculations and attempts to delegitimise the election process.”
“Our presence in Zimbabwe aims to fulfil the goals of acting as the real embassy of transparency and legitimacy of the upcoming election process,” Prof Matemulane said.
“We fully share and strongly embrace the belief that African problems require African solutions on the contrary to ‘Euro or Amero-Africanised’ solutions which are brought and implemented by Western States financing organisations and are used to get incredible profits for themselves.”
President of Honour of Prussian Society from Germany Mr Volker Tschapke commended Zimbabweans for maintaining peace.
He is part of the AFRIC Observer Mission.
“I could see on the television in Germany what happened a few months (transition) here,” said Mr Tschapke.
“It is something unique. We have never had that in the world because it was totally peaceful and there was no drop of blood. This is a very important foundation for the coming elections. We are proud and it is very critical that we are here and see what is going on. What we have realised is good. It is like a mood before Christmas, everybody is happy about what is coming. It is very peaceful. I am grateful that I am a partner of this historic moment of Zimbabwe. I pray for Zimbabwe this election and wish all the best.”
Many observer missions have hailed the peaceful pre-election environment.
In separate media briefings yesterday, the African Union, Comesa, Sadc and the United States said they expected the elections to be conducted in accordance with the country’s laws.
They said the prevailing situation in the country is conducive for free and fair elections.
In a statement, the African Union Election Observer Mission, which is being led by former Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr Haile Mariam Desalegn said: “The overall objective of AUEOM is to promote democratic governance by building public confidence in electoral processes in member states of the AU. This objective is in line with aspirations outlined in the AU’s Agenda 2063, particularly Aspiration III, which aims to ensure good governance, democracy, and respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law on the continent. The conduct of peaceful, democratic and credible elections is deemed critical to the realisation of Agenda 2063 and the attainment of the AU’s vision of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa.
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Nichols told journalists after meeting Acting President Constantino Chiwenga at his Munhumutapa Offices yesterday that the election period was a very exciting time for Zimbabwe.
“This is a very exciting time for Zimbabwe. We are at the door step of elections and I want to know the Vice President in that context. This is a crucial time.
There has been a great deal of progress. Candidates have been able to campaign openly. There has been a very comprehensive technical platform to prepare for the elections. However, there has been some issues, challenges with intimidation and some issues to do with differences with electoral commission (Zec),” said Mr Nichols.
He encouraged Zimbabweans to go out and vote in order to exercise their will at the ballot box.
Ambassador Nichols said a free fair and transparent electoral process will be the first major step in the warming of relations between the two countries.
“I am very impressed with many of the changes taking place so far and we hope this next step will allow us to deepen our relationship and cooperation even further,” he said.
Addressing journalists at a press conference in Harare yesterday, the Electoral Support Network of Southern Africa (ESN-Southern Africa) ESNA-SA mission head Dr Tomaz Salomao advised political parties to respect democracy and the rule of law.
“In democracy, there are winners and losers. That is how democracy is all over the world,” he said.
“If anyone made statements at this stage we just take note of the statement and at the appropriate time will engage him to advise him that in democracy there are rules and you must be prepared to accept the rules of the game.
“We are an observer mission, this country belongs to Zimbabweans and we are to help, assist and advise Zimbabweans that please do your best to take your country forward politically and economically speaking. That’s what you have to do and encourage all Zimbabweans to go and vote for the candidates of their preference.
Addressing journalists in Harare, Comesa head of election observer mission Ambassador Ashraf Gamal Rashed said: “Our mission endeavours to observe the various phases of the electoral cycle including campaigns, voting, vote counting and declaration or election results.
Furthermore, as is our practice, the delegation will consult electoral stakeholders including political parties, security agencies, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, civil society organisations, academia and the media.
“As an observer mission, we will be primarily guided by the Constitution and legal framework of the republic of Zimbabwe, and relevant international and regional instruments including the Comesa guidelines on election observation.”
Meanwhile, the United States has deployed 20 teams from its embassy in Harare to observe elections.
In a statement yesterday, the US government said the observation was at the invitation of the Zimbabwean Government.
Besides regional and international regional bodies, the Government has invited 46 countries to observe the polls as part of the new dispensation led by
President Mnangagwa to open up a democratic space to enhance the holding of credible elections.
“The United States supports the Zimbabwean people’s desire to determine their future through a free, fair, and credible election on July 30th. At the Zimbabwean Government’s invitation, 20 teams from the Embassy will be in the field observing polling throughout Zimbabwe. They have been accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
“The United States Embassy remains committed to supporting the people of Zimbabwe and their efforts to build a more just, prosperous, and healthy society, regardless of the outcome of the election. We do not support any candidate or political party; we support the democratic process. Observation of elections is a long-standing international best practice, and we welcome the opportunity to observe this important part of Zimbabwe’s democracy,” said the Embassy.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa has declared Monday, July 30, a public holiday to allow people to go and vote in the harmonised elections slated for that day.
The declaration was made in terms of Section 2 (2) of the Public Holidays and Prohibition of Business Act (Chapter 10:21), as read together with Section 38(2) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13).
This comes as observer missions and embassies observing Monday’s harmonised elections have expressed confidence in the country’s preparedness to hold the polls and urged all political parties to respect the rule of law on the voting day.
President Mnangagwa in his capacity as the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces had already pledged his commitment to a peaceful and credible election.
In line with his pledge, President Mnangagwa opened the political space in the country and allowed all parties to conduct their activities without hindrance.
In an Extra-Ordinary Government Gazette published yesterday, President Mnangagwa said: “It is hereby declared that the 30th of July, 2018, shall be a public holiday for the purposes of polling for the 2018 harmonised elections.”