Photo Credit: Tungamire Raldane Mhike



Addendum: The Zimbabwe election and the role of the European Union.

The EU is sending a delegation and an observation mission to monitor and support the electoral process in Zimbabwe, which is seen as a crucial test for the country’s democracy and stability.

The EU delegation is composed of representatives from the EU institutions, such as the European Commission, the European External Action Service, and the European Parliament, as well as from EU member states. The delegation’s main objectives are to engage in political dialogue with the Zimbabwean authorities and stakeholders, to provide technical and financial assistance for electoral reforms and development, and to coordinate with other international partners and donors. ¹


The EU observation mission is an independent and impartial team of experts that will assess the conduct of the election according to international standards and best practices. The mission will observe all aspects of the election, such as the legal framework, the voter registration, the campaign environment, the media coverage, the voting and counting procedures, and the results management. The mission will issue a preliminary statement shortly after the election day, and a final report with recommendations for future elections within two months after the end of the electoral process. ²


The EU delegation and observation mission have faced some criticisms from various sources, such as:


– The Zimbabwean government and ruling party ZANU-PF: They have accused the EU of interfering in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs, imposing sanctions and conditions on the country, and supporting the opposition parties. They have also rejected some of the recommendations made by the EU observation mission after the 2018 election, such as aligning the Electoral Act with the Constitution, strengthening the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), and reforming the state-owned media. ¹³

– The opposition parties and civil society organisations: They have accused the EU of being too soft and lenient on the Zimbabwean government, failing to hold it accountable for human rights violations and electoral malpractices, and prioritising economic interests over democratic principles. They have also expressed frustration with the slow pace and limited scope of the electoral reforms implemented by the government, despite the EU’s technical and financial support. ¹

– The media and public opinion: They have accused the EU of being biased and inconsistent in its assessment of the election, depending on its political agenda and interests. They have also questioned the credibility and effectiveness of the EU observation mission, given that it has not been able to prevent or resolve some of the major challenges and controversies that have marred previous elections in Zimbabwe. ³


These criticisms reflect some of the difficulties and dilemmas that the EU faces in its engagement with Zimbabwe, as well as some of the expectations and perceptions that different actors have about its role and influence. The EU has stated that it respects Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and independence, and that it is committed to supporting its democratic transition and development in a constructive and cooperative manner. ¹²