Zimbabwe bars Western election observers

By KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare

Zimbabwe says election observers from western countries are barred from monitoring the country’s polls in retaliation to sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle, Africareview reports.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe delivers a speech at his party's annual national conference in Gweru, on December 7, 2012. His Zanu-PF party has barred election monitors from western countries from observing the country’s polls. JEKESAI NJIKIZANA | AFP

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe delivers a speech at his party’s annual national conference in Gweru, on December 7, 2012. His Zanu-PF party has barred election monitors from western countries from observing the country’s polls. JEKESAI NJIKIZANA | AFP

Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi Tuesday said by imposing sanctions on the country, America, Britain and the European Union had displayed hostility towards Zimbabwe and they had no business monitoring the country’s elections.

“The level of hostility is measured by the relationship those countries have with Zimbabwe and clearly those countries that have imposed sanctions on us will not be here,” he said after meeting with visiting Swedish International Development Co-operation minister Gunilla Carlsson in Harare.

Mr Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe had never been invited to observe elections in western countries and by the same token it was not extending an invitation to those nations.

The Foreign minister echoed Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s sentiments, who said Zimbabwe was a sovereign state and only countries from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will be invited.

Something to hide

Indications are that, like previous years, observers will be invited from SADC, the African Union (AU), the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) and countries deemed to be friendly to Zimbabwe.

The EU, Britain and the US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe after a violent 2002 presidential election citing a breakdown of law and order and human rights violations.

Recently the European bloc has eased sanctions on a few of President Mugabe’s close associates, but Zimbabwe describes the move as piecemeal, maintaining that all restrictions must be removed.

However, the moves by the minister to bar western observers is likely to trigger fresh fissures within Zimbabwe’s coalition government, with other parties saying President Mugabe’s party cannot unilaterally take such a decision.

Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, the Regional and International Integration minister, said this was not the country’s position, accusing the rival Zanu-PF party of putting the horse before the cart.

“Before people rush to make such statements, they should allow institutions mandated to handle such institutions to do so,” she said.

Being exclusionary, Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga, a secretary general of the MDC, said, gave the impression that the country had something to hide.

The southern African nation has not invited western observers, since an EU delegation was kicked out of the country in 2002.

Zimbabwe will, in just over week, hold a constitutional referendum, while general election will be held later this year.

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