Image: Zimlive

The European Union (EU) observer team has underscored its commitment to conducting unbiased observation of Zimbabwean elections in comments that could be linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s weekend exhortation on observers not to meddle in the country’s August 23 poll.

The EU, which has already started work ahead of the crunch poll, is participating in Zimbabwean polls for the second time since Mnangagwa in 2018 lifted a ban previously imposed on the bloc’s observers by his predecessor Robert Mugabe who was citing inherent bias against his party.

The EU observer mission to Zimbabwe’s 2023 poll is headed by Fabio Massimo Castaldo, an Italian politician and member of the European Parliament.

In a statement Tuesday, the chief observer said his team would stick to its mandate of observing the poll.

“The deployment of this mission is a strong sign of Zimbabwe and the EU’s commitment to supporting genuine and transparent elections,” Castaldo said.

“We are here to achieve common goals with the people and the institutions of Zimbabwe.

“We will observe and analyse elections and our tested methodology ensures that there won’t be any interference in the process by our side,” he said.

While there was no direct reference to Mnangagwa’s weekend remarks, the EU’s comments could have been an indirect response to the Zimbabwean incumbent’s warning on observers to stick to their mandate.

Addressing Zanu PF supporters who gathered for the official opening of the renovated Robert Gabriel Mugabe International airport last Friday, Mnangagwa warned foreign election observers to refrain from interfering in the country’s electoral processes.

“This interference from outside is unacceptable,” Mnangagwa said.

“We have the sovereign right to run our elections. Those countries who want to observe must restrict themselves to the role of observing our elections, not to interfere with that process.

“We will not accept it.

“After all, they have elections full of fault in their countries.

“We are highly qualified to teach them democracy; so they must learn from us.”

In its statement Tuesday, the EU observer team said it is in Zimbabwe to assess the extent to which the poll process complies with domestic and international best practices for democratic elections.

“EU observers will also focus on the level playing field for contesting candidates and parties, the electoral administration, the campaign environment, the conduct of traditional and social media, voting, counting and the tabulation of results.

“We will remain in the country well beyond election day to observe the post electoral environment,” said the chief observer.

On voting day, the EU observer team will have 150 observers from EU member states as well as Canada, Norway and Switzerland.