The International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) organized the Zimbabwe International Election Observation Mission (ZIEOM) for the 2018 Zimbabwe presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections (referred to locally as “harmonized” elections). Recognizing that elections are about more than just Election Day, the seven-month mission analyzed the legal framework and observed the pre-election period; voting and counting on Election Day as well as the announcement of results; and, during the post-election period, the resolution of electoral disputes and taking of office by the winners.
Overall, the 85 percent turnout on Election Day, July 30, 2018, irrespective of other considerations, demonstrated that Zimbabweans want to transition away from the divisions, brutality and economic ruin of the Robert Mugabe era. While some significant incremental improvements were demonstrated in the 2018 elections, Zimbabwe has not yet established a process that treats all political parties equitably and allows citizens to be confident that they can cast their vote and express their political opinion free from fear of retribution. Consequently, Zimbabwe‘s democratic trajectory is not certain, and the international community should remain vigilant and engaged in supporting the people’s call for a genuine transition.
This report reviews Zimbabwe’s electoral environment and processes, and it offers recommendations to various stakeholders based on IRI’s and NDI’s comparative experience, in the spirit of international cooperation, and with respect for the sovereignty of Zimbabwe.