LATEST: Tensions rise as EU takes drastic action against ZEC

ZEC boss Justice Priscilla Makanyara Chigumba

The European Union has expressed concerns about Zimbabwe’s recent elections and is suspending US$5 million in funding for the electoral commission.

Last year, the EU donated €6 million to help Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission (ZEC) prepare for general elections held last month. However, international observer missions have since raised issues regarding ZEC’s independence and transparency during the electoral process.

In response, the EU announced it has formally notified Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Finance and Investment Promotion as well as ZEC of its intent to suspend support for a project managed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The project, which was scheduled until December 2024, aimed to strengthen ZEC’s institutional and technical capacity.

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In its statement, the EU referenced preliminary reports from several electoral observer groups, including its own, that pointed to challenges around ZEC’s impartial management of the polls. As the donor puts responsibility managing public funds, it launched a review process for the ZIM-ECO2 project contributions.

The EU contributed a total of US$4.7 million to the UNDP initiative, of which around US$1 million has been spent so far. It emphasized the importance of election management bodies operating independently and with transparency to ensure credible and inclusive democratic processes.

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While suspending support at this time, the EU said it remains open to resuming contributions if electoral processes in Zimbabwe move closer to regional and international standards. It will continue monitoring the situation and cooperate with various stakeholders to advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

The overall goal of the ZIM-ECO2 project was strengthening ZEC’s capacity to run efficient elections that improve Zimbabwe’s entire electoral cycle. But questions around the recent vote have led the EU to re-evaluate its involvement until concerns are addressed.

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