A nine member team from the European Union has arrived in the country on a pre-election assessment exercise and their findings will determine whether it will be feasible, and advisable for the EU to deploy election observers.

The EU head of mission in Zimbabwe Ambassador Philippe Van Damme said the delegation is being led by Mr Costello Patrick the head of Global European External Action Service Division in charge of democracy and electoral observation.

The team members started arriving yesterday and they will commence their mission tomorrow, becoming the first EU team to be involved in Zimbabwe’s electoral processes in 16 years after a fall out between Harare and the EU over Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.

Ambassador Van Damme said after the assessment team will produce a report which will be presented to the EU high representatives and head of commission who will then make a decision on whether to send a delegation to observe the actual polling as well as determine the size of the observation team among other considerations.

“The invitation by the government of Zimbabwe is a clear demonstration that the country is really opening up to the world both economically and politically,” noted Ambassador Van Damme.

The EU team is scheduled to hold meetings with the government, the electoral management body ZEC, civil society and political parties and other election stakeholders.

The team becomes the second group to conduct pre-election assessment after the SADC Electoral Advisory Council which was in the country for a week on a similar mission.