Recently, a number of election observers and rights group said they doubted Zimbabwe’s upcoming parliamentary elections would be free and fair. But a Zimbabwean NGO says it’s too soon to give such an assessment.
Rindai Chipfunde is the national director for Zimbabwe Election Support Network. From Harare, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the status of the election process.
She says, “In terms of our operations, so far we’ve got 6,000 observers invited we’re in the process of bringing them all over the country for accreditation.” She says the announcement of the location of the polling stations was made earlier than the last elections, making it easier to assign election observers to their posts.
But the processing of the observers is slow. Ms. Chipfunde blames that on the high cost of transporting the observers around the country, as well as the cost of accommodations in some cases. She calls on Zimbabwe’s Election Commission to find a quicker, easier way of accreditation that would allow the observers to be approved without having to travel to the capital.
Ms. Chipfunde says the election climate has been more peaceful. “Previously, we saw and witnessed the political violence, many incidents, especially during the campaigning pre-election period. But this time around there is less voter violence.”
Responding to statements by some South African observers and human rights groups that the elections would not be free and fair, the NGO official says, “The Zimbabwe Election Support Network is going to observe the election. For one to judge whether the election is free and fair you need to look at the pre-election period itself, polling dates and post-election events. So it would be really pre-judging the election right now to say to say the election is not going to be free and fair. I think let’s see the whole process.” She says her group will assess the whole election process and will be in a position to judge what happened and issue a report on its findings.
She does credit some of the changes to internaal and outside pressure.