Britain says the by-elections held in Zimbabwe on 26 March were largely peaceful but it was concerned about incidents of political violence and restrictions on political gatherings in the lead-up to the elections.
The by-elections most of which resulted from the recall of Movement for Democratic Change Alliance legislators by the MDC-T, saw the Citizens Coalition for Change retain most of the seats it had under the Alliance name but it lost two parliamentary seats to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
Junior Minister Vicky Ford said Britain did not support any political party as this was for Zimbabweans to choose their government.
She, however, said Zimbabwe should implement recommendations made by electoral observer missions after the 2018 elections which include voter registration, the voters’ roll, use of state-owned resources, independence of the Election Commission and access to state owned media.
Ford was responding to a question from Ruth Jones in the House of Commons.
Ruth Jones Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)- To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to the recent parliamentary by-elections in Zimbabwe, what most recent assessment she has made of the political situation in that country.
Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)- The UK welcomes the largely peaceful manner in which parliamentary and local council by-elections took place in Zimbabwe on 26 March. However, the UK remains concerned by incidents of political violence and restrictions on political gatherings in the lead-up to the by-elections.
The UK does not support any particular candidate or political party in Zimbabwe. It is for the people of Zimbabwe to choose their government through free and fair elections. In ensuring this, we encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to implement the recommendations of the 2018 Electoral Observation Missions ahead of the 2023 elections, including on voter registration, the voters’ roll, use of state-owned resources, independence of the Election Commission and access to state owned media. More broadly, we have been clear that the UK would like to see the Government of Zimbabwe meet its international and domestic obligations by respecting the rule of law, safeguarding human rights, and implementing genuine political and economic reform, in line with the President’s commitments, for the benefit of all Zimbabweans. I [Minister Ford] emphasised these messages when I met President Mnangagwa on 1 November 2021 at the COP26 World Leaders Summit in Glasgow.