Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
The European Union (EU) election observer mission here has dismissed as “propaganda” reports carried by two Masvingo provincial weeklies which claimed that a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) harassed and intimidated them on Tuesday.
The observer team —which comprised Mr Friedarike Friedarike Santner from Austria and Mr Christophe Menou from France — said their engagements with the people of Chiredzi were moving on smoothly despite the shocking media reports which claimed they were harassed by security agencies.
Mr Santner, who referred further questions from The Herald to EU Observer mission spokesperson Mr Eberthard Laue, said the events which unfolded did not amount to harass- ment.
“Journalists must desist from writing propaganda. We were never harassed like what these stories are depicting. We are just meeting the people from this town well and everything is going on smoothly.
“Please if you need more details relating to this incident, please talk to our spokesperson (Mr) Eberthard Laue. He will give you the official position,’’ said Mr Santner.
Mr Laue dismissed as false, the harassment and intimidation claims, saying their observer team was not facing any security risk here.
He urged the media to report objectively and stop misleading the electorate.
“Our team of observers was not harassed by members of the CIO; they were asked for their credentials and that is what they show to all stakeholders whom they are meeting across the country,” he said.
“The way it was portrayed in a couple of newspapers has nothing to put reality from our perspectives. For us, it’s actually a non story as everything was totally twisted and it’s not actually what happened from our own point of view.”
Mr Laeu said the mission will continue to undertake its operations without fear as the security of their observer team was not at threat.
“They just showed them credentials which the CIO requested to have copies of and they just went to a nearby photocopying shop and provided all the information although it’s something unusual. For us, it’s a non-story, we are not concerned about the security of our observers since they were not harassed or intimidated,” he said.
“The only thing that was true was that our observers met a CIO but they were never harassed. We were very surprised to hear how the story was twisted in several papers.”
He said their coming to Chiredzi was in response to the Government of Zimbabwe’s call to have observers ahead of the July 30 harmonised polls.
Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial spokesperson Cde Ronald Ndava, who also met the observer team in Chiredzi said he was shocked when he read about the alleged harassment of EU observers by the CIO.
People should not write propaganda trying to tarnish the image of the security forces and political parties’ especially when we are just towards elections,’’ he said.
“The country has a cordial relationship with the European Union and other countries and that is why the President invited everyone to come and observe the elections. We seriously condemn the habit of writing pavement news with the
habit of trying to tarnish and soil our polls,” said Cde Ndava.