Zimbabwe elections will only be free and fair is Britain and EU observe them
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Some Zanu-PF aligned analysts criticised London's conclusion on the elections that are yet to be held, saying though the EU claimed to be reputable, its reputation was questionable in Zimbabwe.
The British statement, delivered by ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Deborah Bronnert, came after Government indicated on Tuesday that it would not invite the EU and US observers as long as the illegal sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe were in place.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the country would invite international observers from Sadc, Comesa, the African Union and friendly countries.
Addressing journalists in Harare, Ms Bronnert claimed that the EU had a "very good reputation" and well-trained observer team in the world.
Although she said it was up to the Government of Zimbabwe to invite the EU as part of international observers, Ms Bronnert claimed that inviting the EU would help to validate the election results.
"It is common fact around the world that you invite the international observers.
"The European Union has a very good reputation and a well-trained observer team. If Zimbabwe is going to run free-and-fair elections, then it has to invite international observers."
Asked if the Government of Zimbabwe decided to invite other internationally-acclaimed organisations excluding the EU, Ms Bronnert said: "EU has a respected observer team around the world . . . it is up to the Government of Zimbabwe to invite them."
Ms Bronnert said Britain wanted to see the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement and was ready to work with any Government representing the will of the Zimbabwean people.
The EU, she said, would lift illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe if it held a credible referendum next Saturday, describing such a referendum as encompassing what would transpire on the voting day.
She said the EU would take into account the voter turnout and input from political parties and civic society to judge the credibility of the referendum.
Department for International Development country representative Jane Rintoul, who was also present at the Press briefing, said they would not respond positively to Government's request for election funding if the EU, which she referred to as the international community, was not invited.
She said DFID was bankrolling several development programmes in the country such as education and strengthening democracy and economic governance.
Professor Jonathan Moyo said the absence of the EU on the election list of observers was "neither the beginning nor the end of the world".
"It may be the case that the EU has a credible reputation elsewhere, but it certainly does not have a credible reputation in Zimbabwe because it imposed illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe outside the international law and United Nations systems," he said.
"The elections are not elsewhere, but in Zimbabwe and only credible groups and countries that have not been partisan can come and observe the elections."
Prof Moyo said it would "be foolish" for the EU to expect an invitation from a country that had been ravaged by its sanctions. He said if the EU wanted to observe Zimbabwe's elections, it should first restore good relations with the country.
"No rational country can invite an enemy into the house," he said.
"The sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe are not a friendly gesture, but an act of aggression."
Midlands State University lecturer Dr Nhamo Mhiripiri said it was surprising that the EU expected to be invited by Zimbabwe, yet the bloc did not invite Harare to observe similar processes.
"People with issues with the Government of Zimbabwe can not be the best peers in this case," he said.
"If Zimbabwe is not accredited to observe the same functions in Europe, the same should prevail because there are no junior partners in modern day politics.
"We are now in the post colonial period where participants are viewed as equal elements in international systems of democratic governance," said Dr Mhiripiri.
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