Zimbabwe and the European Union (EU) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the deployment of EU election observers for Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections due in July this year.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Retired Lieutenant General Sibusiso Moyo signed on behalf of Zimbabwe, while the EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Phillipe van Damme represented the continental body.

The objective of the MOU is to set up arrangements for the EU observer mission under which the mission shall maintain strict impartiality, objectivity and independence in the conduct of its mandate in accordance with the Zimbabwean electoral law.

It also allows the observers to be present at the counting or collating of votes cast at the election and the verification of polling stations returns by presiding officers.

They will also provide the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) with a comprehensive review of the election, taking into account all relevant circumstances including the degree of impartiality shown by ZEC, the degree of freedom of political parties and candidates to organise, move, assemble and express their will publicly, the opportunity for political parties candidates to have their agents observe all aspects of the electoral process and fairness of access afforded to political parties and candidates to the national media and other resources of the state.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister Moyo said the MOU is a culmination of the desire by the new dispensation led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to have free, fair, transparent and credible elections.

He added it is also an important step in confidence building.

Ambassador Van Damme said the group welcomes Zimbabwe’s commitment to peaceful, credible, inclusive and transparent elections.

He said the EU will deploy long term and short term observers and said the first team should arrive anytime next week.

President Mnangagwa has announced from day one that Zimbabwe has nothing to hide and welcomed observers from all parts of the globe.

This is the first time that the EU is coming to observe elections in Zimbabwe after the door was shut for them in 2002.