ZIMBABWE and the European Union yesterday signed an Administrative Agreement that sets out the terms of the relationship between Government and the EU Elections Observer Mission for the harmonised elections to be held on August 23.
The agreement was signed by the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Professor Amon Murwira and EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Jorbst von Kirchmann. The agreement also includes Canada, Switzerland and Norway.
In his remarks, Prof Murwira said since the advent of universal suffrage at independence in 1980, it has been Zimbabwe’s practice to invite foreign governments and organisations to observe its elections.
“In line with this tradition, and the Governments engagement and re-engagement policy, the Government of Zimbabwe is, once again, inviting international observers to witness the people of Zimbabwe exercise their sovereign right to freely elect a President, Members of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament, and local government representatives of their choice during these forthcoming harmonised general elections. Among other international organisations, the EU is one of the entities invited to observe the upcoming harmonised elections,” he said.
Prof Murwira said the administrative agreement also set out was expected of each party during the elections. “In this regard, I am pleased to inform that, the purpose of the administrative agreement is to organise the relationship between the EU elections observer mission and the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The EU election observer mission and its members will maintain strict impartiality, objectivity and independence in the conduct of their mandate. All EU election observer mission observers shall respect the Code of Conduct in terms of the First Schedule of the Zimbabwe Electoral Act.
“Furthermore, the EU election observer mission observers will respect other Codes of Conduct such as the Code of Conduct for European Observers, Declaration of Principles of International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers,” he said.
On its part, Prof Murwira said the Government will provide EU election observer mission observers with any assistance required for the implementation of the EU election observer mission observers mandate, in accordance with the laws of the land and reiterated that Zimbabwe was open to allowing other entities to observe the elections
Ambassador Von Kirchmann welcomed Zimbabwe’s invitation to observe the elections and said they were expecting at least 150 observers with the first group of 11 experts specialised in different areas expected in the country next week.
There will also be 46 long-term observers expected mid-July, 44 short term observers that will come a day before election day and an equal number of locally recruited short term observers from local EU embassies.
The EU observer team will be led by Italian Member of the European Parliament Mr Fabio Castaldo who will be the chief elections observer.
“This EU election observer mission will not only obey Zimbabwe’s rules and regulations but also with EU’s code of conduct for electoral observation missions and will also be strictly impartial. I think this is part of the agreement which we signed that this mission will be impartial and comply with all rules and regulations and on the other hand the Government of Zimbabwe will support this mission with access, helping them and protecting them,” he said.