Statement by Melanie Robinson, UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe
The British Embassy in Harare commends Zimbabwean voters for their participation in this week’s Harmonised Elections. We applaud the patience and resilience shown by so many Zimbabweans in their determination to exercise their democratic rights, including queuing for long hours outside polling stations. We are encouraged by the spirit of peace and calm that prevailed across the country on Election Day.
The electoral process remains underway. However, we echo the preliminary findings of International Electoral Observation Missions (IEOMs) which have identified significant areas where the pre-election period and Election Day have fallen short of international and regional standards.
These include a lack of transparency by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), including through restricted access to the voters’ roll, a bias in state media reporting, and the passing of repressive legislation that threatens the ability of Zimbabweans to exercise their rights to freedoms of expression, assembly, and association.
Observer missions also noted long delays in the opening of polling stations in some urban areas, as well as allegations of intimidation by the ZANU-PF-aligned Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) group.
We also echo the concerns of IEOMs regarding the arrest of 41 staff members from local election monitoring groups arrested by the Zimbabwean police on the night of 23 August. Independent observers must be able to carry out their duties freely.
We support the calls on ZEC to deliver transparent counting and verification processes. In the vent of electoral disputes, we support calls on all parties and citizens to follow legal and constitutional processes to maintain peace and calm.