Zimbabweans voted in their country’s first national elections this week since the violent and disputed polls in 2008. These elections were an opportunity for Zimbabwe to move forward on a democratic path and provide a foundation for growth and prosperity.
The people of Zimbabwe should be commended for rejecting violence and showing their commitment to the democratic process. But make no mistake: in light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results announced today represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people.
Though the United States was restricted from monitoring these elections, the balance of evidence indicates that today’s announcement was the culmination of a deeply flawed process. There were irregularities in the provision and composition of the voters roll. The parties had unequal access to state media. The security sector did not safeguard the electoral process on an even-handed basis. And the government failed to implement the political reforms mandated by Zimbabwe’s new constitution, the Global Political Agreement, and the region.
We urge the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to address their concerns with the electoral process, as well as those raised by domestic monitoring groups. The Government of Zimbabwe needs to chart a way forward that will give the people of Zimbabwe the opportunity to express their most fundamental democratic right in a free and fair environment. We further call on all parties to refrain from violence during this period.
The United States shares the same fundamental interests as the Zimbabwean people: a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Zimbabwe that reflects the will of its people and provides opportunities for them to flourish. For that to happen, the Government of Zimbabwe should heed the voices of its citizens and implement the democratic reforms mandated by the country’s new constitution.
Only then will Zimbabwe truly embark on a path towards democracy that reflects the aspirations of its people.