from MERCY MUJURU in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – THE European Union (EU), whose election observers were banned by the previous Zimbabwe regime, is finalising plans to send monitors ahead of the country’s upcoming elections.
The polls set for July/August are crucial in Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the international community after years of isolation presided over by the repressive regime of then-president, Robert Mugabe.
This week, the European Union (EU), among the fiercest critic of Mugabe’s government, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at guiding how the European bloc would observe the harmonised elections.
Philippe van Damme, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, said the MoU would allow the bloc to mobilise the electoral observation mission as soon as possible.
“I hope in the next couple of days, we will be able to confirm the exact date of the arrival of this observation mission,” the envoy said in Harare.
He said the MoU represented an important step in normalizing the electoral process
“We are happy indeed to have been able to sign this MoU,” van Damme said.
The attendance of the EU observers would represent the first time in 16 years the bloc would monitor the polls.
Mugabe barred EU claiming bias favouring opposition parties and influencing the masses to revolt against him.
He was ousted in a coup amid factionalism in the ruling ZANU-PF party last November.
Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeded Mugabe with a pledge to mend strained relations with the international community.
Sibusiso Moyo, Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Minister, speaking at the signing, said the MoU would govern how EU would conduct its observation mission.
Already the African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and United Nations (UN) have endorsed the campaign process.
More than 100 parties have registered, with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of Nelson Chamisa again set to offer a formidable challenge to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
– CAJ News