By Tendai Mugabe and Muchaneta Chimuka
The Association for Free Research and international Cooperation (AFRIC), which is among international organisations observing this year’s harmonised elections, has given the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) the thumbs up for conducting a successful plebiscite.
This comes as India’s election observer mission also expressed satisfaction in the way elections were conducted, saying it will welcome the final result to be announced by ZEC.
AFRIC is a community of independent researchers, experts and activists and their main goal is to create a platform for elaboration and dissemination of objective analytical information, first-hand opinions; establishing direct communication and cooperation.
Giving her assessment of the polls, AFRIC member Mirjam Katharina Zwingli from Switzerland said: “I was positively impressed by the organisation if the presidential election. I was incredibly touched by the pride I saw in people’s eyes standing in the queues, very calm and very proud. I also see self-confidence. I saw the polling officials and they seemed very meticulous trying to do everything according to the book. It took some time at times but I was astounded how committed they were, how thorough they were, very transparent. This election was a symbolic gesture that Zimbabwe has now come to international standards in terms of holding democratic processes,” she said.
Another AFRIC member Rishabh Sethi from India said: “I want to thank the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for conducting elections in a very successful manner. I look forward to come to Zimbabwe again and I wish good luck and development for this country.”
Volker Tschapke from Germany said: “I was touched with many young people standing in the queues waiting to vote. It was a great day for Zimbabweans.”
AFRIC brought 40 international observers from countries like Mozambique, South Africa, Cape Verde, Mongolia, India, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine representing a range of organizations from NGOs to Parliaments and academic institutions. AFRIC observers were at all stations in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe invited more than 46 countries and 15 international organisations to observe this year’s elections.
Most of the organisatiosn were already in the country before the polls and expressed confidence that the peaceful environment in the country was conducive for free, fair and credible polls.
President Mnangagwa had said Zimbabwe was committed to a peaceful election and on Monday when he casted his vote at Sherwood Primary School he thanked people for observing peace.
He said it was his fervent hope that the peaceful environment would continue after the elections.
Speaking at a Press conference in Harare yesterday, principal resident commissioner of India’s observer mission Mr Shri Jyoti Kalash said they came to Zimbabwe a week ago and witnessed peace and harmony in all provinces they visited.
“We are a team of eight election observers and we are proud to say Zimbabwean elections were held in a peaceful manner. We never witnessed or heard reports of violence during elections and we do expect this after the election period,” said Mr Kalash.
“We as the Indian community are going to welcome any results that are going to come out and we urge people to accept and respect whatever outcome. We are also glad that all contesting parties were given ample opportunities to campaign as witnessed by the vast posters that we saw across the country and many people who freely participated in the media,” he said.
He urged Zimbabwe to embrace the electronic voting system saying it’s fast, efficient and will help increase the number of voters as India is witnessing.
“We promise to invest in more business deals with Zimbabwe since it’s a peaceful, democratic country. We are going to preach the gospel about Zimbabwe back home so that more and more investors come. For future reference, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission can embrace the electronic voting system because it is quicker and transparent and everyone who is eligible to vote can cast their vote even from abroad, rather than the ballot system where people have to go to the polling stations and queue. Elections are there to respect people’s mandate and any Government that comes into power,” he said.
Mr Kalash said the peaceful election period in Zimbabwe enabled them to learn and exchange ideas with co-observers such as the European Union, Commonwealth, and Community Development Committee (CDC) among others.
He said elections in Zimbabwe were different from India in that they constitute local authorities, National Assembly and the Presidency.
The election observer mission came to Zimbabwe on July 21 and will return to India on August 5.