Friday, March 9, 2018

EU election observers to visit Zimbabwe

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BRITISH Ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing yesterday said European Union election observers will soon visit Zimbabwe for a preliminary assessment ahead of the country's harmonised elections.

In terms of the constitution, the country is expected to go for the polls anytime between July 21 and August 21 this year.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration which is reengaging the international community, has invited international observers, a departure from the isolationist policies of the previous administration led by ex-President Robert Mugabe.

In an interview in Bulawayo yesterday after meeting civil society organisations, Amb Laing said she was impressed by the Government's decision to invite international observers ahead of the country's polls.

"The final thing I want to say on the election is that we are very pleased that the Government has invited the EU monitoring team. And they will be arriving very soon for their preliminary assessment. That is a very positive step that shows the Government is true to its commitment to invite international observers," she said.

She expressed confidence on the electoral roadmap, with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission having so far registered over 5,3 million people to vote.

Amb Laing said the country should also put in place mechanisms to ensure that there is no intimidation of voters during the election period.

"The most important thing now is a clear roadmap to ensure that other technical processes are in place. The de-duplication of the voters roll goes well and that people can see the voters roll and have confidence in it, that it is a clean roll and there is no manipulation of the roll, and finally, that people should feel empowered to vote for the party and individuals they want without any sense of intimidation," said Amb Laing.

She said civil society organisations should also play an intermediary role between the people and Government as ordinary citizens hardly have access to people in power.

"It's hard for people like that to have a voice, that is why we have civil society organisations, their job is to give those people a voice, represent them. That's why we work with civil society organisations," she said.

Amb Laing said there is a lot of work to be done in the revival of the country's economy.

She said there is great hope for the future because of new lines of communication that the new dispensation has opened with the world.

"The road ahead is still extremely precarious, Zimbabwe economy is in deep crisis. However, there are now opportunities [that] didn't exist before. In terms of the new dispensation, Government in their economic side, there are some early promising signs, in particular the indigenisation law, the Finance Bill that is significant progress. There are huge challenges ahead in the economy and the Government need to go back on track with international financial institutions," she said.