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Western Election Observers Barred From Zimbabwe Poll

The Zimbabwe government has invited 47 countries and organizations to send delegations to observe the March 29 elections.

Most of those invited are from Africa including the 13 other member states of the Southern African Development Community plus Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Uganda. Invited from Asia are China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Iran, and from the Americas Harare has invited Brazil, Jamaica, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Besides SADC, Harare has invited the African union, the common market for eastern and southern Africa, better known as COMESA and the economic community of west African states, among others including the Maghreb union and the inter-governmental authority on development.

Russia is the only European country invited and the pro-Mugabe U.S.- based December 12 movement has also been given the green light. Announcing the list, foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbegegwi specified that the United States and Europe had been excluded because, he maintained, they “believe the only free and fair election is one where the opposition wins,” whereas ZANU-PF is quote “poised to score yet another triumph.” the state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted the foreign minister as saying the selection of countries and organizations was made based on quote “reciprocity, objectivity and impartiality.”

But National Constitutional assembly director earnest Mudzengi told reporter Patience Rusere that Harare’s selection of some countries and its exclusion of others shows that the Harare government does not want close scrutiny.

Political analyst Joshua Mhambi told Brenda Moyo that although the list of organizations invited is fairly broad, it mostly includes groups from countries that are aligned with Zimbabwe or have business interests with Harare.

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