EU Withdraws Zimbabwe Electoral Body Funding Over Lack of Transparency
HARARE — The European Union says it is withdrawing $5 million in financial support to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission because of what it calls a lack of independence and transparency in the country's disputed August polls.
In a statement late Tuesday, the EU embassy in Harare said Brussels is pulling out its $5 million financial support to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission because of the way the commission ran the country's August general election.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa defeated Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change in the hotly contested Aug. 23 election.
“We did not set institutions that underpin our democracy in chapter 12 of our constitution so that they can be funded by foreigners," said Nick Mangwana, the government spokesman. "As government, we always provide for ZEC’s needs through the fiscus. So as far as we are concerned, this is a non-event. We did not apply for this funding. And it's withdrawal, does not mean anything. ZEC will fulfill its mandate through the funding that it gets from the people of Zimbabwe.”
Promise Mkwananzi is the spokesman for the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change, which disputes the president’s victory.
“ZEC is improperly composed, it is not independent, it is not professional. We saw it in the previous elections, we've seen it even more glaringly in this election," said Mkwananzi. "So we were quite surprised that the EU entrusted the taxpayer's money of Europeans to such a group. The way forward really, like we've already articulated, is the disbandment of ZEC, totally, and the firing of all the individuals we involved both at commission and secretary level, and re-commissioning and re-composing ZEC based on individuals of integrity, of honor and independence, who then reconstitute ZEC in accordance with the constitution and the laws of our country in preparation for a fresh free and free election.”
The EU’s observer mission to Zimbabwe’s elections was among other missions which condemned the way Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ran the August polls.
The Southern Africa Development Community mission said the elections fell far short of the regional body’s electoral guidelines and infringed on the country’s constitution and electoral laws.
Linda Masarira, is the founder of the opposition Labor, Economists and African Democrats party. She says African countries need to run elections without EU help.
“They've always wanted to meddle with how we do elections in this country," said Masarira. "And it should be a wake-up call to the government of this country to start funding its own elections, its own processes, its own government programs. We cannot continue running with begging bowls to the West and the East.”
Gibson Nyikadzino, Harare-based independent political analyst, agrees with Masarira.
“It only shows us that the European Union or the Western order has a way it wants to construct some truths in the knowledge regarding the issues to do with elections, the issues to do with democratic processes in the nations of the South," said Nyikadzino. "And this explains why they are failing to come to terms with the reality that the Zanu-PF was officially declared the winner.”
But Brighton Mutebuka, a lawyer and political commentator, says the EU was justified in withdrawing the money.
“It is not just the EU who here on the ground versus with their electoral observer mission," said Mutebuka. "But we have the regional bodies SADC and the AU as well. And they concluded that the election that ZEC delivered fell far short of those standards and quite brazenly saw in many respects in what we saw. So the ball is in ZEC’s court.”
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission refused to comment on the EU’s announcement.