President Mnangagwa has declared Monday July 30 a public holiday to allow people to go and vote in harmonised elections slated for that day.
The declaration was made in terms of Section 2 (2) of the Public Holidays and Prohibition of Business Act (Chapter 10:21), as read together with Section 38 (2) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13).
This comes as observer missions and embassies observing Monday’s harmonised elections have expressed confidence in the country’s preparedness to hold the polls and urged all political parties to respect the rule of law on voting day.
President Mnangagwa, in his capacity as the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces had already pledged his commitment to a peaceful and credible election.
In line with his pledge, the President opened the political space in the country and allowed all parties to conduct their activities without hindrance.
In an Extraordinary Government Gazette published yesterday, President Mnangagwa said: “It is hereby declared that the 30th of July, 2018, shall be a public holiday for the purposes of polling for the 2018 harmonised elections.”
In separate media briefings yesterday, the African Union, Comesa, Sadc and the United States said they expected the elections to be conducted in accordance with the country’s laws.
They said the prevailing situation in the country was conducive for free and fair elections.
In a statement, the African Union Election Observer Mission, which is being led by former Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr Haile Mariam Desalegn said: “The overall objective of AUEOM is to promote democratic governance by building public confidence in electoral processes in member-states of the AU. This objective is in line with aspirations outlined in the AU’s Agenda 2063, particularly Aspiration III, which aims to ensure good governance, democracy, and respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law on the continent. The conduct of peaceful, democratic and credible elections is deemed critical to the realisation of Agenda 2063 and the attainment of the AU’s vision of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa.”
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Nichols told journalists after meeting Acting President Constantino Chiwenga at his Munhumutapa Offices yesterday that said: “This is a very exciting time for Zimbabwe. We are at the door step of elections and I want to know the Vice President in that context.
“This is a crucial time. There has been a great deal of progress. Candidates have been able to campaign openly. There has been a very comprehensive technical platform to prepare for the elections. However, there has been some issues, challenges with intimidation and some issues to do with differences with electoral commission (ZEC).”
“I hope this is a positive situation I encourage all Zimbabweans to go out and vote and exercise their will at the ballot box.”
Ambassador Nichols said a free fair and transparent electoral process will be the first major step in the warming of relations between the two countries.
“I am very impressed with many of the changes taking place so far and we hope this next step will allow us to deepen our relationship and cooperation even further,” he said.
Addressing journalists at a press conference in Harare yesterday, the Electoral Support Network of Southern Africa (ESN-Southern Africa) ESNA-SA mission head Dr Tomaz Salomao advised political parties to respect democracy and the rule of law.
“In democracy, there are winners and losers. That is how democracy is all over the world,” he said.
“If anyone made statements at this stage we just take note of the statement and at the appropriate time will engage him to advise him that in democracy there are rules and you must be prepared to accept the rules of the game.
“We are an observer mission, this country belongs to Zimbabweans and we are to help, assist and advise Zimbabweans that please do your best to take your country forward political and economically speaking. That’s what you have to do and encourage all Zimbabweans to go and vote on their candidates of their preference.
“The meeting we had with the political parties they raised concerns but we are yet to meet all other political and in a position to comment.”
Addressing journalists in Harare, Comesa head of election observer mission Ambassador Ashraf Gamal Rashed said: “Our mission endeavours to observe the various phases of the electoral cycle including campaigns, voting, vote counting and declaration or election results. Furthermore, as is our practice, the delegation will consult electoral stakeholders including political parties, security agencies, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, civil society organisations, academia and the media.
“As an observer mission, we will be primarily guided by the Constitution and legal framework of the republic of Zimbabwe, and relevant international and regional instruments including the Comesa guidelines on election observation. In that regard, ladies and gentlemen, and also to ensure that we do a good thorough job, all members of Comesa.”
Meanwhile the United States has deployed 20 teams from its embassy in Harare to observe elections in the all constituencies as preparations for the harmonised elections set for next Monday intensify.
In a statement yesterday, the US government said the observation was at the invitation of the Zimbabwe Government.
Besides regional and international regional bodies, the Government has invited over 46 countries to observe the polls as part of the new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa to open up a democratic space to enhance the holding of credible elections.
“The United States supports the Zimbabwean people’s desire to determine their future through a free, fair, and credible election on July 30th. At the Zimbabwean government’s invitation, twenty teams from the Embassy will be in the field observing polling throughout Zimbabwe. They have been accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
“The United States Embassy remains committed to supporting the people of Zimbabwe and their efforts to build a more just, prosperous, and healthy society, regardless of the outcome of the election. We do not support any candidate or political party; we support the democratic process. Observation of elections is a long-standing international best practice, and we welcome the opportunity to observe this important part of Zimbabwe’s democracy,” said the Embassy.