EUROPEAN Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) has accused the government of blocking presentation of its final August 2023 election report by imposing cumbersome restrictions on the delegation.
As part of its mission duty the delegation intended to travel to Zimbabwe to present the final election report and meet with the various political stakeholders.
The EU dispatched an election observer mission in July after an invitation from government.
The government was incensed by the election observer mission report that cast aspersions on the August general elections that ushered Mnangagwa’s second and final term at the helm.
Presenting the final report in Brussels, EU EOM head of delegation Fabio Massimo Castaldo said the government lacked the political will to allow the mission into the country.
“The EU EOM was meant to return to the country some three months after the elections. The purpose of the return visit was, as is standard practice, to present the mission’s final report to the authorities and public within the country.
“The EU EOM would also discuss the conclusions and recommendations with local stakeholders in the country to determine possible ways forward to implement the recommendations and of course engage in cooperation if that is the will.
“The return visit of the EU EOM to Zimbabwe was foreseen and arrangements were signed by EU delegation and Zimbabwean ministry of foreign affairs and international trade.
“Unfortunately, the conditions did not allow for it to take place. Prior to the deployment of the mission, it became clear that the Zimbabwean authorities lack the political will to allow the EU EOM visit to be carried out according to its longstanding methodology,” said Castaldo.
Castaldo added that during his delegation’s mission, it encountered hurdles in what he described as “unprecedent”.
“The mission faced significant challenges to meet with officials at a national level despite repeated requests.This include, just to give an example, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commision (ZEC) which the EU EOM was able to meet once in all our observation.
“It was unfortunately equally unavailable for the meetings with the chief observer and European Parliament delegation while other observer organisations were granted repeated access several times. Such behavior is unprecedent in my long time as a politician, parliamentarian and as an observer. This is really something that really surprised me and shocked me at the same time,” he said.
The EU EOM observed the plebiscite for the second time since the ouster of Robert Mugabe who had banned the delegation after a frosty relation with the European Union.
After releasing a damning preliminary report, the delegation was received criticism from government and state media saying they were meddling in the country’s affairs.
“These reports were based on lies and violated journalistic standards. These lies published particularly by the State media put in danger the safety of our observers on the ground. We took note that the government did not respond anytime to these defamation campaign despite its commitment to ensure the personal safety of all the members of the EU EOM,” he added.