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EUEOM tables final report on August elections

MIDWEEK REPORTER

HARARE- The European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) yesterday released a damning final report on the August 2023 harmonised elections that portrays the uneven political playing field and curtailment of people’s rights and freedoms.

The EUEOM report noted that lack of level playing field prevented the electorate from making their choices in a genuine and pluralistic environment.

“The 23 August 2023 harmonised elections in Zimbabwe were marked by a curtailment of rights

and freedoms and the lack of a level playing field, which limited voters’ ability to make their choices in a genuinely free and pluralistic environment,” reads the report.

The report cited the selective implementation of laws such as the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MPOA) as a way of preventing people from exercising their right to associate, assemble and express themselves.

“Recent legal changes, including the passage of the so-called

‘patriotic provisions’ to the criminal code, legislative work on the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill, and selective implementation of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MPOA) underlined the closing space for the exercise of freedoms of association,

assembly, and expression,” EUEOM said in the report.

The report rapped the electoral body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for lack of transparency which reduced its integrity.

“Until election day, the technical implementation of the electoral process was largely conducted in line with the electoral calendar. However, a lack of guarantees for independence, transparency, and significant delays in the opening of a considerable number of polling stations on election day reduced public trust in ZEC and the efficiency of the electoral preparations.

Throughout the electoral period, ZEC’s activities were characterised by a lack of transparency and insufficient communication,” the report reads.

The EU EOM also red flagged ZEC for releasing the voters’ roll to stakeholders late and alleged gross inaccuracies in the database.

“The integrity of voter registration was contentious due to delays in sharing of the voters’ roll with stakeholders and widespread allegations of inaccuracies in the database.”

The astronomical registration fees for candidates and inconsistent application of rules by ZEC are also mentioned as the reasons that narrowed the electorate’s choice during the 2023 harmonised elections.

“Voters were offered political alternatives, but the overall inclusivity of the candidate registration process was reduced because of undue requirements and inconsistent application of the rules by ZEC and nomination courts.”

 “The high fees and inconsistent application of

procedures meant that more than one-fifth of aspiring presidential and parliamentary candidates

were not admitted to the contest. This meant that administrative measures were used to limit citizens’ fundamental right to stand and that voters had a narrowed choice,” further reads the report.

The EU EOM said there is a need for political will to engage in comprehensive and meaningful reforms to lay a ground for genuine elections in the future.

The state media said the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Jenfan Muswere issued a statement last night saying the EOM sought to misrepresent Government’s adherence to the demands of the Constitution in the August 23-24 harmonised elections.

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