Harare, Wednesday, May 23, 2018: COMESA has deployed a pre- election mission to Zimbabwe to assess the level of preparedness for the forthcoming general elections in July 2018. The team of nine is led by two members of the COMESA Committee of Elders; Ambassador Ashraf Rashed of Egypt and Ms Hope Kivengere from Uganda.
The team began meeting key stakeholders today in Harare, among them, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the Judiciary and the Police. Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon Sibusiso Moyo welcomed the team to Zimbabwe.
During a series of meetings, Amb. Rashed and Ms Kivengere informed the stakeholders that the deployment of the COMESA pre-election mission was intended to help Zimbabwe strengthen its democratic practices, especially in the conduct of elections.
They said the Mission will anchor its assessment on the legal framework governing elections in Zimbabwe and the regional, continental and international standards on the conduct of democratic elections.
In his brief, Minister Moyo outlined the measures the government has taken to ensure a free, fair and credible process which he said would consolidate the current optimism of the Zimbabwean population.
He said: “As a result, over 120 political parties have emerged to participate in political activities provided by an even playfield which the government has made possible.” He added that voter registration was still going to allow as many voters as possible to register.
5.4 m Registered
According to the Chair of the ZEC, Honourable Justice Mrs. Priscilla Chigumba, about 5.4 million voters have been registered using the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) out of a projected seven million. She was briefing the COMESA team in her office.
She said her Commission was mainly relying on the government to finance the elections budget of $148 million.
“The Treasury has committed to provide $95.8 million towards the conduct of elections in the 2018 National Budget,” she said. “The bulk of the funds are coming from the government while the Commission has also been assistance from cooperating partners (United Nations Development Programme, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the UN Women).”
In a separate meeting, the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe, Hon Luke Malaba informed the COMESA team that the Judiciary was setting up Electoral Courts to deal with possible petitions that may arise after the elections.
“Special courts have also been set up at the district level to deal with elections-related violence is and these will start operating as soon as proclamation of the actual date of the general elections is made,” Justice Malaba said.
With regard to security, Commissioner General of Police Tandabantu Godwin Matanga told the COMESA team that preparations for securing the elections were progress well. So far, police officers to be deployed in the general elections have been trained and a special handbook that provides guidelines on their duties and responsibilities published. Mapping of election hotspots was going on that will guide deployment of security officers.
The COMESA pre-elections assessment mission will take six days during, which it will also consult with political parties, ministries in charge of home affairs, information and broadcasting and civil societies. It will also conduct limited visits to the countrywide to interact with the populace.