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EU observers say Zimbabwe elections were flawed and unfair

HARARE – The EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) said Zimbabwe’s election failed to meet international and regional standards. The mission cited regressive legal changes, violence and intimidation, and lack of transparency as the main flaws.

“The election process created a climate of fear. The arrest of members of accredited citizen observer groups ZESN and ERC, who exercised their constitutional rights, is of great concern,” said Chief Observer Castaldo, in the group’s preliminary statement.

Andreas Schieder, head of the European Parliament (EP) delegation, also condemned the raids and endorsed the EU EOM statement.

Castaldo said the election day was calm, but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) did not ensure public trust in the voting and results management. He said the ZEC failed to provide critical electoral material, such as paper ballots, resulting in severe delays in many polling stations.

He also noted the central role of the judiciary in the process, given the high number of pre-election court challenges, some of which remain unresolved.

Castaldo said the campaign was not fair, especially regarding the freedom of assembly. He said the state-controlled media favored the ruling party, President Mnangagwa, and the government.

He said the EU EOM faced problems in accessing official bodies, despite an agreement with the Zimbabwean government. He also deplored a disinformation and defamation campaign against the EU EOM and other international observers.

The EU EOM was invited by the Zimbabwean government to observe the 2023 elections. The mission followed a long-term, independent and impartial methodology, and a strict code of conduct. The mission comprised 150 observers from 27 EU member states and other countries. The mission adhered to its principle of non-interference.