THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Govt to invite foreign observers
The Sunday Mail
February 14, 2005

THE Government has begun sending letters of invitation to foreign organisations and countries that will observe the March 31 general elections, amid indications that countries hostile to Zimbabwe are unlikely to be invited, Sunday News learnt this week.

Invitations will soon be extended to local observers who want to keep an eye on the parliamentary elections. Those interested will be asked to submit their applications to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

Speaking to Sunday News on Friday, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is handling the invitation of foreign observer missions, Ms Pavelyn Musaka, said letters have already been sent to some African countries.

"The process of sending out invitations to governments mainly in the Southern African region and the African continent and others is currently under way," said Ms Musaka.

However, she would not be drawn into disclosing which countries were likely to be excluded from observing the polls.

However, the Government barred Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland from observing the 2002 Presidential elections, but invited observer missions from African, Asian and friendly European countries.

The Government barred the head of the European Union election observer team, Mr Pierre Schori, from observing the 2002 Presidential elections because the Government had only invited Italy, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Belgium, France, Austria, Luxembourg and Portugal as part of a joint mission led by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP/EU). Mr Schori was Swedens ambassador to the United Nations.

Ms Musaka said Zimbabwe, the second-longest multi-party democracy in Africa, takes pride in its experience of running elections since Independence in 1980 and has periodically invited international observers to participate in its electoral processes in keeping with widely accepted international democratic practices.

"Election after election, Zimbabwe has matured politically and benefited from objective and honest opinions proferred by progressive international observers.

"The forthcoming sixth Parliamentary election slated for March 31 2005 will be no exception in terms of inviting election observers," she said.

Speaking to Sunday News in an interview on Thursday, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, whose ministry handles the invitation of local observers, said he would soon be sending out invitation letters to people and organisations interested in observing the polls.

He said the invitations would be sent through the national media.

"In terms of the law, all local observers only come to observe elections at my invitation. We have to limit the number of local observers because we do not want a situation where, say, 100 people will come and disturb the voting process at polling stations on the pretext of observing elections.

"Many people are going to apply and we are going to cut the number to a manageable one," said Cde Chinamasa.

President Mugabe has announced that the elections will be held on March 31.

Many changes have been made to Zimbabwes electoral processes to ensure that the countrys laws conform to the Southern Africa Development Community principles and guidelines on democratic elections.

The Zimbabwe Elections Commissions led by High Court judge Mr Justice George Chiweshe has been set up to run the elections.

Some changes that have been implemented in the countrys electoral system are that voting will be done in one instead of two days, ballot boxes will be changed from wooden to translucent ones and vote counting will be done at polling station.

The Government invited many foreign observers, including the European Union, China, Russia, many countries in Africa and the African Union, and the Southern African Development Community, to observe the June 2000 parliamentary and 2002 Presidential polls. The observer missions declared that the outcome of the elections was representative of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

However, the EU countries later produced a damning report at the instigation of the anti-Zimbabwe British government, claiming that the elections were not free and fair.

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.