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Zimbabwe: Harare Releases Observer List
Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hopewell Radebe
11 March 2008
Business Day (Johannesburg)

ZIMBABWE yesterday released a list of international organisations and countries accredited to observe elections there this month.

The move is aimed at rebutting media reports that no international observer structures would be welcome during the March 29 poll.

"Zimbabwe has invited countries and organisation from all parts of the world . Our list excludes those countries with preconceived ideas who believe that the only free and fair election is where the opposition wins," Zimbabwean ambassador to SA Simon Moyo said.

The countries that have been excluded include the US, the UK, Australia and other European countries with the exception of Russia.

Moyo charged that some of these countries had already "written their reports", and that his government had no desire "to give such cooked reports the credence and credibility they lack and do not deserve".

"Foreign invitees were selected on the basis of reciprocity as well as their objectivity and impartiality in their relationship with Zimbabwe."

He said all member countries in the Southern African Development Community were invited.

South American and some Asian countries were coming to observe the elections in line with the country's electoral act and the SADC principles and guidelines that governed democratic elections.

He lambasted the South African media for peddling what he called "a virulent and vicious smear campaign by the west" against his country that was "certainly not out of ignorance of the facts, but out of sheer malice".

Among other African organisations and institutions, Zimbabwe has accredited organisations such as the Pan African Parliament, the African Union Commission and the continent's five regional economic structures.

The international institutions invited included the Non-Aligned Movement, the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of states, the Caribbean Community, the Association of South East Asian Nations, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Community of Portuguese Speaking (Lusophone) countries and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it welcomed the news that some international bodies would be invited.

Spokesman Patrick Craven said: "We remain sceptical about the conditions that have not been properly and sufficiently rendered conducive for all parties to campaign freely." Zimbabwe had not failed to render elections free and fair even in the presence of international observers who monitored earlier elections.

"But we hope that democracy and the will of the people will prevail this time," he said.

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