By Daniel Chigundu
Economist-cum-politician Vince Musewe says the country cannot rely on Short-term election-Observers (STOs) to determine the fairness of the polls.
Unlike STOs, Long-term-Observers (LTOs) come to a country in advance of the election usually three or four months, to speak with government officials, party leaders, members of the media, academics or experts, diplomats, and representatives from minority groups with regards to impending elections.
The issue of election observers is topical in Zimbabwe and government has made it no secret that it will only allow observers from countries it deems friendly to observe its elections.
Since 2000, lots of international election observers mainly from Europe and United States of America have had their request to observe elections in the country turned down by the government.
Zimbabwe has only allowed the African Union and SADC related observers but they usually come just a few days before the polls and in most cases, they are unable to go around the country.
Writing on his social media page, Musewe said election observers always get it wrong by coming just a few days before the polls as they would have missed important details that happen before the voting day.
“It is quite ridiculous that election observers only come in to observe an election process for a few days and then make a judgment on their fairness. As we speak now the intimidation machinery has already started its work. Access for the competing political parties to the media in order for them to promote their programs is nonexistent and we are already seeing the abuse of state resources to give an advantage to the incumbent.
“Elections in Zimbabwe are not won during election day but well before they even come. The toothless and biased Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is quiet and watching. We can therefore not rely on a few days observation as the measure of free and fair elections. We need the international community to realise that,” he said.
Political parties in the country have constantly claimed they are barred from campaigning in certain areas during election periods and in some instances, opposition parties have beaten or killed during elections, for example, the murder of MDC-T activists Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika in Buhera.
ZEC has also come under fire on most occasions for turning a blind eye to electoral malpractices perpetrated by Zanu PF on opposition party supporters.-
MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora last week told delegates at an election policy dialogue organised by Election Resource Centre that ZEC is not capable of running free and fair elections.
Mwonzora cited various by-elections that include Bikita West and Norton where numerous malpractices including vote-buying were rampant.