Harare: European Union observers on Wednesday listed several problems in Zimbabwe’s presidential and parliamentary election, including voter intimidation and mistrust in the electoral commission, as the main opposition leader accused the ruling party of trying to rig the result.
The observers also questioned delays in releasing the results of the presidential contest in Zimbabwe’s first election since Robert Mugabe was forced to resign following a de facto coup in November after nearly 40 years in power.
The EU’s assessment is critical in determining whether Zimbabwe can shed its pariah status as it could help attract investors and trigger an economic revival.
Mugabe’s successor Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling ZANU-PF and Nelson Chamisa of the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change were the main contenders in Monday’s election.
The EU’s chief observer, Elmar Brok, said that he did not yet know if the shortcomings would have a material effect on the outcome of the vote, and he criticised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for being at times “one-sided”.
The EU did not understand why the release of the presidential result was taking so long, he said.
“The longer it lasts that the results of the presidential election is not known, the more lack of credibility it provides,” Brok said. “I would like to ask for as fast as possible the release of the presidential election,” he said. “The presidential results were counted first in the polling stations therefore I have still to learn why it will be published last.”
The electoral commission had said it would start announcing results for the presidential race from 10.30 GMT, but this was delayed as commissioners read out more parliamentary results.
With three seats yet to be declared, ZANU-PF had 144 seats compared to 61 for the MDC, meaning the ruling party achieved a two-thirds majority which would allow it to change the constitution at will.
Opposition leader Chamisa accused the ZANU-PF of trying to steal the election. He accused the commission of releasing the parliamentary results first to prepare Zimbabweans for a Mnangagwa victory.
“The strategy is meant to prepare Zimbabwe mentally to accept fake presidential results. We’ve more votes than ED (Emmerson Dambudzo). We won the popular vote (and) will defend it,” Mr Chamisa said on Twitter. — AFP