By Wallace Mawire
The EU Delegation has prepared the ground for the deployment of an Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the upcoming harmonised elections by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the EU office in Harare has reported.
According to the EU office in Harare, today’s signature by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Sibusiso Busi Moyo and EU Ambassador Philippe Van Damme follows the invitation by the Government of Zimbabwe on 2 March 2018 for the EU to deploy an Election Observation Mission for the upcoming harmonised elections.
In March 2018, the EU undertook an Exploratory Mission to determine the advisability, feasibility and usefulness of sending EU election observers to Zimbabwe. On the basis of this mission’s recommendations, Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative / Vice President of the Commission, informed Minister Moyo during his visit to Brussels on 28 April of her decision to deploy an EOM. It is the first time since 2002 that the European Union will deploy an EOM to Zimbabwe and a significant additional support to the country’s democratisation process.
After the signature, Ambassador Philippe Van Damme, Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe, said: “The EU welcomes the commitment of the government to peaceful, peaceful, credible, inclusive, and transparent elections. It is vitally important that an electoral environment is created conducive to freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of assembly.”
The Memorandum of Understanding outlines the rights and obligations of the EU Election Observation Mission. EU election observers maintain strict impartiality, objectivity and independence in the conduct of their mandate. They are bound by the Code of Conduct for EU Election Observers and also adhere to the Code of Conduct for International Election Observers and will act in accordance with the Constitution and laws in force in Zimbabwe.
In addition to observing the run up to the elections and Election Day itself, the EOM will also monitor electoral complaints that may be lodged after the elections. The EU observers will be deployed nationwide.
It is reported that toe long-term presence of the Observation Mission will allow it to make an impartial and comprehensive assessment of the electoral process and environment, as well as of the conduct of the elections themselves. In their work, the EU EOM will liaise closely with all key stakeholders, as well as with other international observation missions and domestic observers.