The Election Observers and thier Missions prior to the Elections
Following the EU election observation methodology, the mission will observe all aspects of the electoral process before, on and after the election day. The EU EOM will issue a preliminary statement and hold a press conference in Harare after the elections. The final report, which will include a set of recommendations for future electoral processes, will be presented and shared with stakeholders after the finalisation of the entire electoral process.
The mission is expected to comprise more than 150 observers from all 27 EU member states, as well as Canada, Norway and Switzerland. An 11-person core team arrived in Harare on 8 July. 46 long-term EU EOM observers arrive in Zimbabwe on 22 July and are deployed to all ten provinces. They observe the electoral process in their areas and report back to the core team in Harare where the observations are analysed.
44 short-term observers will join the mission shortly before the election day. They observe voting, counting and the tabulation of results. The mission will be also joined by a delegation of seven Members of the European Parliament, and diplomatic staff from embassies accredited in Harare. The EU EOM will remain in the country until the completion of the electoral process.
SADC (Southern African Development Community)
I am pleased to inform you that the SADC Electoral Observation Mission to the 2023 Harmonised Elections in the Republic of Zimbabwe consists of 68 personnel. They are from 9 SADC Member States, namely, Republic of Angola, Republic of Botswana, Kingdom of Eswatini, Republic of Malawi, Republic of Mozambique, Republic of Namibia, Republic of South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, and Republic of Zambia. Our observers have been deployed to the 10 Provinces of Zimbabwe, namely, Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands, Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West. The SEOM observations will focus on the pre-election, election and post-election periods, which include political parties campaigns; the voting day and the process of the counting of the ballot papers.
To that end, the SEOM has two components, Short- 5 Term Observation (STO) covering the period 10th – 24th August 2023, and Long-Term Observation (LTO), covering the period 25th August – 1st September 2023. We started stakeholder engagements in earnest since our arrival in Harare to appreciate the political, legal and security situation in the context of the elections in order to better inform the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia
The Observer Missions acknowledged the peaceful and calm nature of the pre-election and voting phases during the 23-24 August 2023 Harmonised Elections. However, they identified that certain aspects of the elections did not meet the requirements set by the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Electoral Act, and the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2021).
The Missions commended the people of Zimbabwe for maintaining a peaceful political environment throughout the pre-election period and on voting day. They will release a final report after the validation and proclamation of the final results, which will be shared with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and all stakeholders.
The long-term observers will continue post-election observation until 1st September 2023, and the SEAC will conduct a post-election review to assess the implementation of recommendations and provide necessary support. In case of electoral disputes, the Missions urged all contestants to follow established legal procedures. They also appealed to political parties, the people of Zimbabwe, and all stakeholders to allow the ZEC to announce the final results as mandated by law.
The African Union Mission
Read or download the African Union report Here
The Mission’s interactions with civic and political actors revealed that concerns persist regarding the process and outcome of the delimitation exercise. These included: allegations of inadequate consultation with stakeholders despite assertion by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that there were consultations at all levels; use of inaccurate population figures; gerrymandering in some areas to produce pre-determined election results; and limited civic education on the delimitation.
The Mission takes note of the Commission’s efforts to reach out and register as many eligible voters as possible. This effort was appreciated by some stakeholders the Mission interacted with but also raised some issues of concern as follows:
- a. That many potential eligible voters were left out due to lack of National Registration Cards which is one of the requirements for registration as a voter. They claimed that the process of obtaining the National Identity cards was not transparent in some areas in the country.
- b. Failure to open the review of the voters roll to political parties as a confidence building measure
- c. The limited time of only five days allocated to voters to check their registration status.
- d. Late release of the voters roll to political parties, candidates and other interested stakeholders
- e. High fees required to be pai d for those wishing to obtain a copy of the voters roll
- f. Limited communication by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to its stakeholders regarding the process and state of the voters’ roll
The US Embassy in Zimbabwe
https://zw.usembassy.gov/election-results-in-zimbabwe/ their latest comments made on the 29th August 2023 make interesting reading (click here) with respect to Free and Fair elections, which we see did NOT occur in Zimbabwe.
"For example, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other international electoral observation missions cited problems with transparency, independence, fairness, and credibility at all stages of the electoral process. The United States notes in particular the systemic bias against political opposition during the pre-election period and reports from respected civil society groups that ZEC officials pressured election observers to sign altered polling station result forms. We call on the ZEC to make the disaggregated polling station results publicly available to increase confidence in the result tabulation process."
"We also strongly condemn the intimidation and disruption of lawful election observers throughout the electoral period."
"These actions belie President Mnangagwa’s repeated pledges to respect rule of law, transparency, and accountability. The United States is engaging regional leaders to share our concerns, including what this means for the international community’s nascent efforts to reengage the Zimbabwean government."
The Commonwealth Commission
Read or download the Commonwealth Statement Here
Thank you for coming to this Commonwealth Observer Group Press Conference. I will present the interim observations of the Commonwealth Observer Group on the electoral process thus far, noting that the tallying process is still ongoing. The final report, setting out our full findings on the entire process and our recommendations, will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General in due course.
Prior to election day, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had provided various assurances of its preparedness and readiness to conduct the elections as scheduled. However, on election day the late opening of polls due to the late arrival of ballot papers in the major urban areas of Harare and Bulawayo, raised concerns and heightened tensions, noting that these areas represent a significant proportion of the overall population. While we note ZEC’s explanation regarding challenges with logistics and the impact of late court cases, we would welcome a more detailed explanation from ZEC in the coming days, and we will reflect further on this matter in our final report.
We observed, and received various reports, that an NGO called Forever Associate Zimbabwe (FAZ), had set up ‘exit poll survey’ tables in close proximity to polling stations, with governing party regalia. From our briefings with other civil society organisations and stakeholders, it was made clear that exit polling is currently not permitted within the legal framework of Zimbabwe.
International Press Coverage
- The SADC observers said although the electoral environment was largely peaceful, the polls failed a credibility test. The EU observer mission said the election took place in a climate of “fear”.
- Thousands of Zimbabweans waited on voting day for more than 12 hours in queues as the electoral commission failed to deliver ballot papers on time. Mnangagwa was forced to extend voting by another day.
- Without disclosing his next course of action, Chamisa said his party had evidence that it won the presidential vote.
- He accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of failing to run the polls and announcing the wrong result.
On Friday, Alexander Rusero, a politics professor at Africa University in Zimbabwe, welcomed the SADC report on the elections.
- “Unfortunately, I do not think ZANU-PF is being advised appropriately,” Rusero said.
- “There was no way this election was going to be 100% perfect given the irregularities,” he said. “What is important is to celebrate, to say, in spite of all those irregularities, there are still certain positives. … Unfortunately, government strategic department is doing a disservice to the republic of Zimbabwe.”
- In the election, President Mnangagwa is seeking a second term, running against 10 candidates, including the main contender, Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change.
- Voting was extended to a second day Thursday after election day was marred by polling station delays and shortages of ballots in opposition strongholds Bulawayo and Harare.
- There has been a heavy police presence in Harare since Friday night, ahead of the release of official presidential election results, expected by Monday.
Many Knew the Elections we not going to be free or Fair
22nd August 2023: As Zimbabweans prepare to head to the polls on August 23, the United States calls on all actors to commit to free, fair, and peaceful elections. The Zimbabwean people deserve the chance to choose their future without fear of repression or intimidation, in line with Zimbabwe’s constitution. We believe the best route to peace and prosperity is for governments to respect the right of their citizens to vote and allow for peaceful and democratic political processes.
"We are concerned by recent actions leading up to the elections, including political violence and legislation that curtails human rights and freedoms enshrined in Zimbabwe’s constitution. The United States condemns the denial of credentials for multiple international journalists and domestic civil society members to cover the elections in-country, and delays in election observation accreditation. We call on the government of Zimbabwe and all political leaders to ensure the elections are free of violence and coercion. While the United States does not support any party or candidate, we are committed to supporting the democratic process and backing Zimbabwean aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law."
The Carter Center said, “With the tabulation of results still underway at some tally centres, it is critical for Zimbabweans to wait for the announcement of the ZEC’s final results in the coming days, and for key political leaders to abide by the provisions of the Peace Pledge.”
It added, “Given the highly polarized environment and lack of trust among political stakeholders, it is now especially critical for the ZEC to publish detailed results at the polling station level, allowing political parties and observers to cross-verify the results, in accordance with international best practice, to help ensure the transparency and credibility of the election process.”
The United Nations Also Expresses Doubts
27 August 2023
Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General - on elections in Zimbabwe
Florencia Soto Niño-Martínez, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
- The Secretary-General is closely following developments in Zimbabwe's elections. He is concerned about the arrest of observers, reports of voter intimidation, threats of violence, harassment and coercion.
- The Secretary-General calls on political leaders and their supporters to reject any and all forms of violence, threats of violence, or incitement to violence, and to ensure that human rights and the rule of law are fully respected.
- The Secretary-General calls on political actors to peacefully settle any disputes through established legal and institutional channels, and urges the competent authorities to resolve any disputes in a fair, expeditious, and transparent manner to ensure that the results are a true reflection of the will of the people.