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eeas.europa.eu | Election Follow-up Mission [EFM] to Zimbabwe - Final Report Publication, 15 July 2022
The Final Report of the EFM notes slow and limited progress in the implementation of the recommendations offered by the EU [Election Observation Mission] EOM in 2018. It highlights a number of challenges that, if left unaddressed, might affect the organisation of inclusive, transparent and peaceful elections in 2023. For example, key recommendations designed to improve the campaign environment by promoting a level playing field, accountability and transparency have not yet been tackled.
Positively, the EFM report highlights that several actions to undertake a comprehensive electoral reform were initiated following the 2018 elections, both from the government side and from civil society. Whilst [UK-Eng. ALERT] the Covid-19 lock-down delayed the process, an Inter-Ministerial Task Force considered recommendations from the election observers, including the EU EOM, and developed a draft bill to amend the Electoral Act. Should the bill be advanced in its current form, it would bring noteworthy improvements to the election process. In a press conference organised by the EFM on 20 May, Chief of Mission Mr. Elmar Brok underlined the need for the reform process to move forward in a timely and inclusive fashion to promote credible elections next year.
IRI | Zimbabwe 2023 Elections: A Risk Assessment of the Online Space, 26 July 2023, 20pp META promo
WhatsApp is the leading online media platform in Zimbabwe, used by 3.7 million people--almost half of Zimbabweans with access to the internet.10 Its low data use has made the platform a leading communication tool for social and political discourse. Although the platform has restrictions on its political use, both the ruling party and the opposition are actively utilizing WhatsApp to spread their message. Facebook is next with 1.3 million users.11 The platform is actively used for political campaigning and information exchange.12 Although Twitter does not enjoy the same popularity, with only 232,200 users, it is still an active space for social discussions and political campaigning.13

Information Integrity, which refers to the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of information, is of concern in Zimbabwe, especially during the pre-election period.14 Main narratives spread through social media have two dimensions: issues concentrated on transparency, accountability, and corruption, and targeted attacks toward opposing figures, including hate speech, name calling, and discrediting of individuals.

The ruling party and the government are known to spread propaganda aimed at Western ideals (equality, freedom of expression, human rights, etc.) labeling sides as "patriots" and "sell-outs." Online hate speech is primarily targeted at journalists, human-rights defenders, women, the LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) community, and tribal communities.15

Although < wipes tears > the Constitution of Zimbabwe guarantees freedom of expression and media, Zimbabwe has implemented laws that target online expression.16 Journalists and activists have faced criminal charges for exposing corruption and abuse of power.17 Internet access, especially in rural areas of the country, is significantly low, which makes a large percentage of the population dependent on state-controlled media. Internet shutdowns have occurred around political events such as protests and post-election periods.18

Zimbabwe's political landscape has a troubling history of offline violence, especially around elections. The country's security forces, backed by ZANU-PF, have consistently engaged in acts of unlawful violence, exhibiting a sense of impunity. These acts often result in police brutality and further victimization of vulnerable groups.19

hrw | Zimbabwe: Repression, Violence Loom over August Election, 3 Aug
Zimbabwe authorities have failed to take necessary steps to ensure that the general election slated for August 23, 2023, meets international standards for free and fair elections, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 44-page report, "'Crush Them Like Lice': Repression of Civil and Political Rights Ahead of Zimbabwe's August 2023 Election," finds that the seriously flawed electoral process threatens the fundamental rights of Zimbabweans to freely choose their representatives.

...Human Rights Watch spent two weeks in Zimbabwe in April and May 2023. Twenty-eight (28) people were interviewed, including representatives from the main opposition party, election observer groups, lawyers, human rights activists, and ordinary citizens. These people provided first-hand accounts on electoral conditions in the country ahead of the August 23, 2023, elections....
The electoral process has been undermined by the authorities' adoption and use of repressive laws, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) lack of impartiality, the Zimbabwe Republic Police's partisan conduct and use of intimidation and violence against the opposition, the opposition's lack of access to voter rolls, and impunity for individuals responsible for election-related abuses.
herald.co.zw | Biased observers: History repeating itself, 19 Aug guilt by association
For instance, Chris Maroleng, who has been described by some as a commissar journalist for opposition parties and his accomplices, would want to masquerade as an unbiased observer when history is littered with his anti-Zimbabwe sentiments, which, upon deportation on Thursday he demonstrated without restraint or shame, baring his true colours as an off colour political activist.
herald.co.zw | Govt warns errant poll observers (19.08.23)
...In a statement yesterday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said the Government had noted with disappointment, reports carried yesterday by a local daily on alleged gross interference in Zimbabwe's electoral processes by a named foreign observer mission.

"Allegations that the foreign observer mission is giving grocery vouchers, fuel coupons and other freebies to local journalists so that they write negative reports on the elections have been met with the utmost disgust.

"The reports, if true, go against the spirit of non-interference and mutual respect that the invitation to observe our elections was extended under....

Why would Zanu PF, or any government for that matter acquiesce to have the company of biased observers Good Governance Africa when they are known agents provocateurs? As we speak, more than 60 so-called observers of Maroleng ilk are in the country disguised as observers when they have devious intentions behind the façade of observing elections. They are from the American Government-funded Carter Centre and pose a threat to the country's elections as they have no intention to be partial and to keep to the tenets of unbiased elections observers.

Some of the members include individuals who have been involved in, or accused of, subverting constitutionally elected governments on the continent. Among the observers there is Mr Bornface Chibwana who runs an NGO in Malawi called Multiparty Democracy and was instrumental in the downfall of former Malawi President Professor Peter WaMutharika, also on the list is Mr Arthur Nanthuru who is a political activist in Malawi. Also there is Sekonyela Mapetja Director of Lesotho Council of NGOs as part of the Short Term Observers contingent.

Regionally, most of the groups are under the Southern Defenders headed by Mr Katema Katema, a group that has caused mayhem in Lesotho and Swaziland as well. These groups interview voters, and collect so-called electoral malpractices that they then use to mount court challenges in the event of disputed polls. The individuals leading Western-sponsored nongovernmental organisations have been active in Lesotho and they caused serious demonstrations that resulted in the loss of the ruling party where a six-month-old opposition eventually won after a series of demonstrations.

conscience whips asses
trtafrika | EU vote observers reject claims of bribing Zimbabwe journalists, 19 Aug
... Citing unnamed sources, The Herald daily newspaper on Friday reported that an EU media team had met 18 journalists and handed out whiskey and grocery vouchers to "influence journalists to make outlandish claims that seek to sully the whole election process". The EU election observation mission (EOM) "is astounded by the defamatory and malicious accusations made in an article, published in local Zimbabwean media," said head of the delegation Fabio Massimo Castaldo.

'Unsubstantiated rumours'

"These allegations are based on unsubstantiated rumours and entirely fabricated," his statement said. He described previous attempts to discredit his mission and concluded that such stories were "blatant disinformation of the Zimbabwean public".
Twelve candidates are running for the presidency, but the competition is essentially a race between President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, and Nelson Chamisa, 45, in a country beset by corruption, inflation, poverty and unemployment.

euractiv | EU vote observers to Zimbabwe reject bribe report, 20 Aug ditto
A European Union team observing upcoming elections Zimbabwe on Saturday (19 August) denied a state-owned newspaper story alleging they were involved in a bribery scandal....
archived IRI | Moldova, IRI-USAID
by Cat on Mon Aug 21st, 2023 at 03:50:52 PM EST
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