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'Interference on polls, overstepping unacceptable'

by Staff reporter
29 Aug 2023 at 07:03hrs | Views
THE gross interference on the country's internal affairs and overstepping by some electoral observer missions will not be tolerated in Zimbabwe as is the case anywhere in the world.

The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Professor Amon Murwira, said this yesterday following a meeting with European Union Ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe.

The minister said the Government was compelled to respond to the EU Electoral Observation Missions (EU EOM) Preliminary Report, which exhibited biased and misrepresented truths with regard to Zimbabwe's elections.

The EU EOM released its preliminary report last Friday amid concerns that the mission overstepped its boundaries.

Prof Murwira said the Government finds the EU EOM preliminary report rather disturbing, and unfortunate and that its contents are not a product of direct observation.

"We wish to emphasize that election observers are supposed to observe how an election has been conducted, and may make recommendations on areas of improvement, which Zimbabwe as a sovereign State can accept or reject," he said.

"It's highly unfortunate that the EU EOM made conclusions based on hearsay, and on the basis of one-sided information from the opposition, as there appears to be a wholesome adoption of their positions on many issues.

"We had hoped that the EU EOM would observe our elections with an open mind and be impartial, as agreed in the Administrative Arrangement signed between the ministry and the EU, as well as the Code of Conduct for Observers."

Prof Murwira said the preliminary report points to a negative final report, which is clearly designed to damage the image of Zimbabwe.

"It is unacceptable for an Observer Mission to arrogate itself the duty to assess our democratic institutions that were constitutionally established. This is gross interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign State and, therefore, totally unacceptable," he said.

Prof Murwira said Zimbabwe held a peaceful election, although several glitches including delays in delivery of ballot boxes were encountered, voters were not disenfranchised of their right to vote.

"ZEC gave a detailed explanation of some of the unforeseen challenges encountered, including the logistical challenges.

"To characterise the challenges as significant irregularities is unfair because ZEC promptly addressed them and the period of voting for the affected polling stations was extended backed by the relevant Statutory Instrument," said Prof Murwira.

He said claims of voter intimidation are baseless as Zimbabweans heeded President Mnangagwa's call for peace throughout the election period.

"It's, therefore, important that information alleging intimidation of voters be verified before observers make conclusions. For example, the huge voter turnout, and the peace that prevailed cannot justify any allegation of intimidation," said the minister.

Prof Murwira said the country's constitution and electoral laws conform to regional and international standards hence observer missions have no legal jurisdiction to comment on the country's legislation.

"In addition, our Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, assembly, and association. It's clearly unacceptable, in Zimbabwe, as it is in any country for foreign interests to be a factor in domestic politics, and to agitate for a particular position in internal policy debates and in our legislature," he said.

"The attack on the judiciary is unjustified. Unsubstantiated allegations against such sovereign institutions, which are the backbone of our democracy, are very unfortunate and unacceptable.

"In that regard, we value democracy and democratic institutions, and will do everything in our power to preserve them."

Prof Murwira said claims that electoral fees were too high cannot be substantiated while there was increased access to media by all contesting political parties.

He said the EU EOM was misled to believe the country has a Patriotic Act when in reality it only amended the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

"The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which the EU EOM characterizes as the Patriotic Act does not in any way infringe on the freedoms of assembly and association as alleged. It simply criminalizes willful injury of the sovereignty and national interests of Zimbabwe," said Prof Murwira.

He said claims that only opposition rallies were not sanctioned are false as police rejected more applications for rallies by Zanu-PF proving the impartiality of the law agents. Prof Murwira said normally the ministry will not come in defense of any of the political parties and their affiliates as this can be done by these institutions.

However, the Government has observed that Zanu-PF and Forever Associates Zimbabwe have come under relentless attack by certain observers, including the EU EOM, without being accorded an interview or given a chance to defend themselves.

"This is not consistent with the basic principles of justice and democracy, which require that the affiliate in question should also be heard just like the other stakeholder organizations," said Prof Murwira.

He said the Government hopes that the final report of the EU EOM will reflect what was observed on the ground, and not a collection of opposition grievances, and speculations from those who want to discredit local elections.

Prof Murwira said the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry stands ready to collaborate with the European Union Election Observer Mission and other observers from all over the world, who wish to contribute to the country's democratic processes.

Source - The Chronicle
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