Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
The Commonwealth has commended the peaceful environment in which the July 30 harmonised elections were held, saying the country had made important gains during the polls. This is contained in the final report on the elections released by the group last week.
“Important gains were made in these elections,” reads part of the report. “The markedly improved pre-election environment, where all parties were generally able to campaign freely, is to be commended.
“The polls on 30 July were conducted in a peaceful manner, and were well-managed and transparent. For the first time, four out of a record 23 presidential candidates were women, although more needs to be done to improve women’s political representation in Zimbabwe.”
The Commonwealth also commended Zimbabweans for the commitment to democracy as seen by the high voter turnout.
“We commend the people of Zimbabwe for their enduring commitment to democracy, reflected in the encouraging voter turnout,” reads the report.
“It is our hope that their leaders will strive to fully realise their aspiration for a peaceful and prosperous country.
“Zimbabwe enjoys a special historical relationship with the Commonwealth: it was in Harare in 1991 that Commonwealth Heads of Government agreed the Harare Commonwealth Declaration committing their countries to a set of core values, including democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
“These values are reflected in Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution. It is our hope that our recommendations and conclusions will contribute to their full implementation.” The group bemoaned the post-election violence that claimed the lives of six people.
Government has since instituted a commission of inquiry chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe to investigate circumstances surrounding the incident on August 1 that also saw several properties being torched by protesters.
The elections have largely been endorsed by various observer missions that were invited to observe the polls.