Zimbabwe invites 47 observer teams to monitor elections

Herald Reporter, The Herald, March 7, 2008

ZIMBABWE has invited 47 regional and sub-regional organisations as well as countries from Africa, Asia, the Americas and one European country — Russia — to observe this month’s harmonised elections.

Briefing ambassadors from China, countries in the Non Aligned Movement and Western diplomats resident in Zimbabwe on the forthcoming elections yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the observers were selected on the basis of reciprocity, objectivity and impartiality in their relationship with Zimbabwe.

"Clearly, those who believe that the only free and fair election is where the opposition wins, have been excluded since the ruling party, Zanu-PF, is poised to score yet another triumph," Cde Mumbengegwi said.

All 13 Sadc states have been invited alongside 10 other African countries among them Senegal, Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Libya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Five Asian countries — China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Iran — and four countries from the Americas — Brazil, Jamaica, Venezuela and Nicaragua — will observe the elections.

African regional organisations invited are Sadc, the African Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, NAM, the Economic Community of West African States, Pan African Parliament, Economic Community of Central African States and East African Community.

Among the invited sub-regional organisations are the Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific, Association of South East Asian Nations, MAGREB Union, Community of Portuguese Speaking (Lusophone) Countries and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.

The December 12 Movement is the only Liberation Movement invited. Diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe and those accredited but are not resident in the country will also be accredited.

"Only those diplomats who are accredited on a full-term basis and not those on temporary assignments and wish to observe the March elections will be granted accreditation upon their request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Cde Mumbengegwi said. He said the decision to hold harmonised elections, which he assured the diplomats would be free and fair, was made in February 2007.

Cde Mumbengegwi said they were some elements in the opposition that wanted the polls to be postponed because they were not ready.

"There can be no excuse on anybody’s part to argue that the elections should be postponed. All those who wanted to participate had plenty of time to prepare themselves," he said.

The same elements, Cde Mumbengegwi added, claim that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was partisan, the elections would be rigged and that the mediation by South African President Mr Thabo Mbeki did not yield any positive results.

He said the success of the inter-party talks were evidenced by amendments to the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Broadcasting Services Act and the Electoral Laws.

As the country heads towards the polls, Cde Mumbengegwi urged diplomats to be wary of some unfounded allegations by the opposition.

"You are the resident ambassadors here. You know this country. All those who do not expect to win the election would want to discredit the process. Therefore, you will come across all sorts of allegations in volumes and volumes.

"My appeal to you is please try your best to ensure that any allegation that is made is verified. We think that is the role you should play," Cde Mumbengegwi said.

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