via We choose who monitors our polls — Mnangagwa | The Herald January 28, 2016
Felex Share Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and chooses countries and institutions it desires to monitor its electoral processes, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday.
In an interview, VP Mnangagwa, who oversees the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry also asserted that any institution willing to assist Zimbabwe on elections would do so on Government terms of reference.
This comes in the wake of reports that the European Union, at the instigation of Britain, wants Government to allow United Nations emissaries to supervise the 2018 elections.
Britain, which has always meddled in Zimbabwe’s political affairs, is reportedly pushing for the adoption of a resolution within the EU to force Zimbabwe to accept UN supervisers.
The move, according to diplomatic sources, is purportedly ‘to avoid a repeat of the disputes that have characterised previous elections.’
Said VP Mnangagwa: “Our position as Zimbabwe has not changed. We are a sovereign state and we run our own elections like a sovereign state and we choose as to who will observe our elections. I hear that the media is talking about such a push but as Government, we have not been approached by the EU to say they wish that the UN observes our elections.”
He said Government knew whom to invite to observe its elections and would not be influenced by anyone.
“Normally we always have our sister countries in sadc who send observer missions,” VP Mnangagwa said.
“We always have the African Union which also sends missions to observe elections. Also other member countries may do so in Africa and a few from outside Africa whom we accept to come and observe.”
The elections Zimbabwe has held since independence have received wide endorsement from the UN, AU, sadc and other countries. In most cases, it is only the United States, Britain and Australia who have cast aspersions on the poll results.
Zimbabwe’s relationship with the West hit a low at the turn of the new millennium when the country embarked on the land reform programme and they responded by imposing illegal sanctions on the nation.
VP Mnangagwa said the UN Needs Assessment Mission, which visited Zimbabwe late last year, should stand guided by Government’s terms of reference when offering electoral assistance.
He said refusal to stick to those terms would see a repeat of the 2013 scenario when Government barred the UN assessment team from getting into the country and subsequently cancelled the poll funding request it had made.
The UN team rejected terms of reference laid down by Government and wanted to meet entities and civil society organisations that had nothing to do with elections.
“In 2013, the UN team was refused to work here because they were coming on their own terms and we told them that we can only accept them to come and work under the terms of the sovereign Government of Zimbabwe,” VP Mnangagwa said.
“Last year when they came in, they came to complement our own work on the financial and technical side to capacitate our own areas which we needed capacitation. The terms of their participation is our own terms. They cannot come operate in Zimbabwe on their terms, NO!”
On plans to introduce the biometric voting system during the 2018 elections, VP Mnangagwa said the idea was still under consideration.
“That idea has been mooted and we passed it on to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) which is now in the process of considering whether or not this should be taken on board,” he said.
“They are looking at various implications of the usage of biometric process and once they are through with their due diligence in that area they will make their report to Government. They have not yet come to a conclusion whether or not to take it on board. Once they have done that, they will come and make their recommendations for or against.”
The electoral reform process in Zimbabwe is already underway, with Zec having taken over from the Registrar-General, the responsibility to register voters and conduct all national elections in terms of the Constitution.
As part of the electoral modifications, Zimbabwe is likely to use polling station-based voting as the country seeks to engender greater transparency and dispute-free elections.
The electoral body is piloting the system.