Commonwealth election observer mission begins work


Harare (New Ziana)-The 14-member Commonwealth election observer mission to Zimbabwe will not interfere with the country’s electoral processes but observe and make recommendations, an official said on Friday.

Officially launching the mission, chair of the Commonwealth observer group, Amina Mohamed, who is a former Kenyan Foreign Affairs cabinet secretary, told journalists the team is honoured to be part of Zimbabwe’s important democratic process.

“We recognise the significance of these elections to the people of Zimbabwe, the region and the global community.

“The Commonwealth Observer Group has no executive role, its function is not to interfere with, but to observe the process as a whole and to make recommendations accordingly.

“We will observe the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period. In particular we will consider whether public media has been impartial, the transparency of the entire process; whether voters are free to express their will and whether the counting and results process is transparent. We will then report on whether the elections have been conducted in accordance with the standards to which Zimbabwe has committed itself, including its national law, regional and international,” she said.

Mohamed said over the coming days, the Commonwealth mission will be meeting stakeholders including government representatives, political parties, security agencies, civil society groups, citizen and international observer groups, diplomats, and the media.

“From the 21st of August, we will deploy our observers across various parts of Zimbabwe to observe the voting, counting and results process, as well as meet with other stakeholders in respective locations. On Election Day, we will observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes.

“We will issue an interim statement on our preliminary findings on the 25th of August, before members of the group depart Zimbabwe on the 29th of August.

“We call on all political parties and their supporters to uphold standards for credible, inclusive and transparent elections and we encourage all citizens to play their part by ensuring that a peaceful and credible process takes place next Wednesday,” she said.

She said added that the observer team’s presence to observe elections affirms the unwavering support of the Commonwealth to this country and its democratic processes.

It is the second time that the observer group will be witnessing the country’s harmonised elections since Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth in 2003.

Asked whether the recommendations to be made by the group had an effect on Zimbabwe’s bid to rejoin the Commonwealth, Mohammed said election observation and membership was not related.

“There is an interest from both parties of the government of Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth that Zimbabwe rejoins the family of the Commonwealth, but these two processes are not linked. We are here at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to witness and observe the elections,” said Mahomed.

Other election observer teams already in the country include the European Union and the Southern African Development Community.

New Ziana

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