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Engel Statement on Zimbabwe Election

ENGEL STATEMENT ON ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:

“A few months ago, free, fair, and credible elections in Zimbabwe seemed unimaginable. These elections demonstrated marked improvement over 2008 and 2013, but that’s a low bar to clear. ‘Good enough’ does not meet international electoral standards, nor does it represent what the people of Zimbabwe deserve. Results remain unclear, and the longer the release of this traceable and transparent information is delayed, the more questions will arise about this process. I’m also deeply concerned by reports that Zimbabwean security forces are using excessive force against unarmed civilians.

“Looking ahead, Zimbabwe’s institutions, including the military, must remain impartial and should not seek to influence the outcome. Likewise, the winning candidates must find a way to work with the political opposition and civil society, maintain their stated commitment to peace, and try vigilantly to unite the country peacefully and uphold the will of the people. Turnout as high as 80 percent underscores the hopes and aspirations of the Zimbabwean people for a truly democratic transition, and I remain ready to support them to achieve that goal.”

Background:

Despite some opening of political space in Zimbabwe since November 2017, serious concerns remained in the pre-election environment, specifically the intimidation of prospective voters; the politicization of tribal leaders; and selective distribution of food, seeds, and fertilizer to influence voters. Observers report that election day itself was orderly, peaceful, and well-administered. There was, however, significant confusion among voters who were subsequently disenfranchised due to the refusal of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to post the voter roll outside each polling center. Such complications were known to the ZEC beforehand and could have been easily remedied before the elections.

Following the conduct of the elections, there were serious concerns that not all polling stations posted results of the tallies for citizens to verify, as required by electoral law. The ZEC has not released a breakdown of election results by polling center, which would vastly improve the transparency and traceability of the electoral process.

A Foreign Affairs Committee staff member participated in a joint International Republican Institute-National Democratic Institute observation mission.