The European Union (EU) announced yesterday its decision to halt its 5 million USD financial backing for the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC), following a series of concerns raised about the commission’s transparency and independence during the recent 2023 elections.
The ZIM-ECO2 project, spearheaded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is designed to bolster ZEC’s capacity throughout the electoral process. While the project’s goal is to enhance the entire electoral cycle, recent observations from international Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs), including the EU’s own mission, have cast a shadow on ZEC’s recent electoral conduct.
Since the EU’s formal involvement with the ZIM-ECO2 project in December 2022, a contribution of nearly 4.7 million USD was committed, with about 1 million Euros already spent. The EU’s decision to suspend its funding signals its grave concerns over the management of the electoral process in Zimbabwe.
Citing the core value that electoral management bodies must function independently and transparently, the EU underscored its commitment to credible elections. “Electoral management bodies have the imperative duty to serve transparently and independently, ensuring the trust of citizens,” an EU spokesperson remarked.
However, the door for collaboration isn’t entirely closed. The EU has indicated its willingness to reconsider its position if Zimbabwe takes concrete steps to align its electoral processes with regional and international standards.
Amidst these developments, the EU reiterated its steadfast commitment to Zimbabwe. It expressed its eagerness to work alongside the Zimbabwean government, civil society, and independent commissions in the nation, aiming to champion the ideals of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
This move by the EU highlights the international community’s increasing scrutiny of electoral processes worldwide and serves as a potent reminder of the critical importance of upholding democratic values and international standards.