EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections were the first to be observed by the Commonwealth in 16 years. The Commonwealth last observed Zimbabwe’s 2002 Presidential Election. As such, this observation mission provided a unique opportunity to accompany Zimbabwe on a critical leg of its democratic journey.
The Commonwealth Observer Group (‘the Group’) took note of the fact that this observation in a non-member state was possible because Zimbabwe had initiated the process of re-joining the organisation, following its withdrawal in December 2003. The Group was aware that this report would be considered by the Commonwealth Secretary-General in the membership assessment process.
The Observer Group was present in Zimbabwe from 23 July to 6 August 2018. On 25 July 2018, the Group issued an Arrival Statement, which outlined its terms of reference (see Annex II). In accordance with its terms of reference, the Group assessed the various aspects of the electoral cycle against the national, regional and international standards for democratic elections that Zimbabwe has committed itself to. In carrying out this task, the Group consulted a range of national stakeholders and other election observer missions in its briefing sessions in Harare and, subsequently, in the ten provinces of Zimbabwe.
These consultations, as well as the Group’s observations during the pre-election phase, on Election Day and the period thereafter, informed the Group’s observations and its conclusions.
Zimbabwe enjoys a special historical relationship with the Commonwealth: it was in Harare in 1991, that Commonwealth Heads of Government agreed the Harare Commonwealth Declaration committing their countries to a set of core values, including democracy, the rule of law and human rights. These values are reflected in Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution. It is our hope that our recommendations and conclusions will contribute to their full implementation.