The Government of Zimbabwe reportedly blocked the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) from presenting its final report on the 23 August 2023 Harmonised Elections in the country, reported NewZimbabwe.com.
The EU EOM claimed that Harare imposed a lot of restrictions on its delegation which resulted in the report being presented in Brussels, Belgium.
The EU dispatched an election observer mission in July after an invitation from the Government.
As part of its mission duty, the EU EOM intended to return to Zimbabwe to present the final election report and meet with the various political stakeholders.
Harare was angered by the election observer mission’s report which condemned the manner in which the elections were held and blocked its return to the country.
Presenting the final report in Brussels, EU EOM head of delegation Fabio Massimo Castaldo said:
The EU EOM was meant to return to the country some three months after the elections.
The purpose of the return visit was, as is standard practice, to present the mission’s final report to the authorities and public within the country.
The EU EOM would also discuss the conclusions and recommendations with local stakeholders in the country to determine possible ways forward to implement the recommendations and of course engage in cooperation if that is the will.
The return visit of the EU EOM to Zimbabwe was foreseen and arrangements were signed by the EU delegation and the Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Unfortunately, the conditions did not allow for it to take place. Prior to the deployment of the mission, it became clear that the Zimbabwean authorities lacked the political will to allow the EU EOM visit to be carried out according to its longstanding methodology.
Castaldo also claimed that during his delegation’s mission, the EU EOM found it difficult to meet key election stakeholders, describing the development as “unprecedented”. He said:
The mission faced significant challenges to meet with officials at a national level despite repeated requests.
This includes, just to give an example, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) which the EU EOM was able to meet once in all our observation.
It was unfortunately equally unavailable for the meetings with the chief observer and European Parliament delegation while other observer organisations were granted repeated access several times.
Such behavior is unprecedented in my long time as a politician, parliamentarian, and as an observer.
This is really something that really surprised me and shocked me at the same time.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba castigated the EU EOM report and said the observer mission had a position before it was even deployed to Zimbabwe for the elections.
Charamba was responding to journalist Zenzele Ndebele who had asked if Zimbabwe’s refusal to allow the EU EOM to return to the country to present its final report meant that the reengagement and engagement were not working.
Below is Charamba’s full response to Ndebele posted on X on Friday, 17 November:
To assist you Babalaza: First, the EU wanted to bring in a whole phalanx into Zimbabwe merely to read out their so-called Final Report which, in reality, is a PRE-ELECTION REPORT TO THE EXTENT IT MERELY CRYSTALLISED THEIR PRE-CONCEPTIONS ABOUT ELECTORAL ZIMBABWE. We conceded!
Next, they wanted a bigger part of that team to come several days ahead as if they were coming in for a second election observation.
Why, in this good world, does merely reading a report require enormous numbers, a greater part of which comes in advance? And this is a country in which the EU has a whole Mission which is fully staffed?
If you look at the modest surrounds – a table, chairs and persons flanking the head – does that require huge numbers, let alone an advance team of such big numbers?
Whilst we believe and pursue RE-ENGAGEMENT, that must never be taken as an excuse to ride roughshod over our sovereignty.
Or an admission we are MORE SINNING THAN SINNED AGAINST. ZIMBABWE is a sovereign country; it will never bend over backwards to please blocs that seek to traduce or trample over its sovereignty. That must sink deep into the European Union.
After all their conduct during the Harmonised Elections was not that inspiring. They will not be missed an iota!