Felex Share, Harare Bureau
THE pre-election environment in Zimbabwe is peaceful and Australia welcomes commitment to free, fair and credible elections by President Mnangagwa’s administration, Canberra representative in Harare Ms Bronte Moules said yesterday.
Speaking after paying a courtesy call on Vice President Constantino Chiwenga in Harare, Ms Moules said political parties were campaigning freely ahead of the July 30 harmonised elections.
The prevailing environment, she said, should continue for people to express themselves freely during the polls. “Now that we are officially in campaign mode, it is a very interesting time to follow (proceedings),” Ms Moules said.
“It’s been encouraging to see the level of participation in the political process, the number of political parties, today (yesterday) the nomination court process and the number of candidates to register. I think that notion of inclusion and free participation in the political process is something that is very important both in terms of those who are participating and also it is an opportunity for people to express themselves free and fairly. It is important for the future of Zimbabwe.”
She added: “We are following closely, we are listening to all the different things that are being said, the debates and discussions and we are trying to talk to a wide range of people as much as possible so that we get a good understanding of what is going on. So far the indications are that the environment has been fairly positive and not entirely without incidences but we hope very much that right through and beyond the election day it will be peaceful and non-violent.”
Ms Moules said Australia welcome the pledge for credible polls by President Mnangagwa.
She said the polls, if held successfully, would see more foreign companies flocking to Zimbabwe.
“We registered from Australia’s part the point that we welcome the commitment to political and economic reforms in Zimbabwe,” she said.
“We welcome the commitment to free, fair, peaceful and credible elections. We hope very much for the sake of the people of Zimbabwe and for the sake of the bilateral relationship that it does go well in the coming months because after that if we see continued progress, and if we see the business environment becoming easier for foreign companies to come in, a transparent and predictable business environment, we will see a lot of potential for greater engagement on the business and commercial side. We will support Zimbabwe’s progress in development.”
Ms Moules said they had also discussed about the existing relations between the two countries.
“We had a discussion about the current developments in Zimbabwe and also about Australia-Zimbabwe relations,” she said.
“We talked about the long standing friendship between our two countries, the potential to build on that and expand our bilateral relations in the future particularly on the commercial-business side.”
She said Australia also welcomed the expression of interest by Zimbabwe to rejoin the Commonwealth.
Government has written a letter to Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland expressing its interest in principle to rejoin the Commonwealth adding that Zimbabwe would do so at the appropriate time.
Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003 at the height of tension between Harare and London over the land issue.