Its Minister for Africa, Andrew Mitchel, told Parliament yesterday that the “The UK takes note of the announcement by the Chair of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of results on 26 August. However, we are concerned by a lack of transparency in the tallying of results, as well as the arrests of domestic observers.”
Mitchell had been asked by Matthew Offord whether his Department had undertaken a review of the legitimacy of the ballot in the Zimbabwe national elections held on 23 August.
He responded:“Whilst we commend the people of Zimbabwe for demonstrating patience and resilience in exercising their democratic rights, and especially for maintaining a peaceful atmosphere on election day and beyond, we share the view of the Election Observation Missions’ preliminary statements that the pre-election environment and election day fell short of regional and international standards.
“Issues included limited transparency from the electoral commission, the lack of level playing field, the passing of repressive legislation, long delays in the opening of some polling stations and reports of intimidation of voters. The UK takes note of the announcement by the Chair of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of results on 26 August. However, we are concerned by a lack of transparency in the tallying of results, as well as the arrests of domestic observers.”
According to Mitchell, Britain had done a lot of lobbying for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe prior to the elections.
He said this in response to another question from Lyn Brown who wanted to know what discussions he had with (a) the Southern African Development Community, (b) the Commonwealth, (c) the African Union and (d) other partner organisations and states on coordination to help ensure the (i) freedom, (ii) fairness, (iii) transparency, (iv) credibility and (v) peacefulness of the election in Zimbabwe on 23 August 2023.
“I engaged with a range of international and regional actors in advance of Zimbabwe’s elections to underline the importance of their peacefulness and credibility,” Mitchell said.
“This included discussions with the Commonwealth Secretary General on 27 July and the Deputy Prime Minister of Namibia and Angola’s Foreign Minister on 8 August.
“During my visit to the region in May, I discussed the elections with Zambian, Mozambican and South African Heads of State and Ministers and former President Chissano. I also underlined the importance of credible and peaceful elections during his meeting with President Mnangagwa on 5 May in the margins of the Coronation.
“The UK has consistently highlighted the importance of independent observation and we were pleased the European Union, African Union, Southern African Development Community and Commonwealth sent independent Election Observation Missions. These Missions have issued detailed preliminary statements which include findings on where the elections fell short of regional and international standards.”