Former President Goodluck Jonathan is billed to leave for Harare on Saturday where he would be leading a joint observer mission of the Africa Union (AU) and Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) to observe Zimbabwe’s general elections scheduled to take place on August 23.
According to a statement by the AU Commission chairperson Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, the joint AU-COMESA team is composed of 73 short-term observers and three core teams of electoral experts, who would be involved in the election observation activities from 16 to 29 August 2023 in Zimbabwe.
He explained that the objective of AU and COMESA election observer mission is to provide accurate and impartial reporting or assessment of the quality of the harmonised elections which includes observing the degree to which the conduct of the elections meets regional, continental, and international standards for democratic elections.
It will be the fourth time Dr. Jonathan would be leading an AU election observation mission since 2016, having led the continental body’s missions to Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.
The AU Chairperson’s statement said: “The joint mission will be led by His Excellency, the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in collaboration with Rt Hon Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda.”
It said further: “The observer team is expected to offer recommendations for improvement of future elections based on the findings; and demonstrate AU’s solidarity and support towards Zimbabwe’s election and democratisation process to ensure that the conduct of democratic, credible and peaceful elections contributes to the consolidation of democratic governance, peace and stability in the country.”
The AU chairperson also said the joint AU-COMESA EOM would engage with several stakeholders and observe the final preparations and polling process, adding that the observer mission would issue its preliminary statement after the election date.
Mr Mahamat said the mission would be guided by AU and COMESA statutes governing the holding of elections whose aim is to promote good governance among other democratic tenets.
“The joint AU-COMESA EOM draws its mandate from various AU and COMESA instruments, most importantly: the African Union Guidelines for Elections Observation and Monitoring Missions (2002); the OAU/AU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa (2002); African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (1981); the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007); and the COMESA Elections Observation Guidelines among others,” he said.
“It is also in line with Aspiration Number 3 of the AU Agenda 2063, which aims to ensure good governance, democracy, and respect for human rights, justice, and rule of law.”
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Government recently invited local and international observers to observe the country’s polls. Other international observer missions including the European Union and Carter center have already deployed its team to observe the country’s elections.