European Union chief observer: Zimbabwe election a 'critical test

Street vendors trade beneath election billboards in Harare Zimbabwe

Street vendors trade beneath election billboards in Harare Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean president is slowly embracing social media.

"These elections are a critical test of Zimbabwe's reform process", the mission's chief observer Emar Brok told a press conference in Harare Friday. He said there was need for me to connect with the modern world and talk to people.

In April, Mnangagwa was listed in TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2018, only five months after he was sworn in as Zimbabwe's president. "Chamisa ndiye achapinda pahupresident, isusu tinotora hudeputy", said Mrs Mahoka.

The army, which took control of state TV and parked its tanks in front of parliament, denied it was seeking power and insisted it was performing an operation targeting "criminals" around Mugabe.

But Chamisa and his MDC party face an uphill battle to win the all-powerful presidency.

The opposition has been riven by division since Tsvangirai's death with several MDC splinter groups emerging, threatening to dilute Chamisa's share of the vote.

His comments come just days after the leading opposition presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa, raised concerns over the government's unwillingness to let stakeholders observe the printing of the ballot paper.

Brok added that the European Union was aware of what happened in the past, especially in rural areas, where Zanu PF has, in the past, unleashed its activists and members of the National Youth Service, known as the Green bombers, in the countryside to coerce the villagers into voting for the ruling party.

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"Whereas in the past we have seen overt and flagrant violation of human rights, what we are seeing is nearly a subtle, subterranean approach", he said.

European Union observers have not attended Zimbabwean elections since 2002.

Responding to queries on demands being made by opposition parties with regards the design, printing and storage of the ballot papers, Deputy Head of the EU Mission, Mr Mark Stevens said other countries involve all the contesting parties because inclusivity enhances credibility while other countries do not have laws that bind them to do that.

"Elections will go ahead whether you start with the initial C or M on the ballot paper".

But Chamisa accused some observers of being seduced by Mnangagwa's pro-democracy "rhetoric".

"Everywhere we have been to, the people are very clear", said President Mnangagwa.

Last week, Chamisa's chief election agent, Jameson Timba, also pointed out that the design of the presidential ballot paper had been created to benefit Mnangagwa.

A run-off that followed was characterised by ugly incidents of violence in which over 200 MDC supporters and officials were murdered in cold blood, forcing Tsvangirai to pull out of the race to hand an easy victory to Mugabe.

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