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Waging Peace

ɫ’s engagement in Zimbabwe dates to 1989, when the Center launched its Project Africa program there. Since then, the Center has conducted election observation in Zimbabwe.

+Election Observation


The Center was denied accreditation to observe Zimbabwe’s 2013 elections, which opponents in the MDC party claimed were rigged in favor of Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party.


ɫ deployed an expert mission to observe the 2018 harmonized elections. The Center conducted a pre-election assessment in March 2018 and established a presence in May 2018 to assess the electoral process. The team’s work was limited in nature and included an analysis of Zimbabwe’s legal and electoral framework, election administration, political and electoral environment, campaign period, women’s participation, civil society engagement, and electoral dispute resolution. The Center did not conduct comprehensive election day observation. It did issue a statement condemning violence surrounding the election.


Following an invitation from the government of Zimbabwe to observe the August 2023 elections, ɫ launched an observation mission in late July with a 10-person core team. Fifteen long-term observers joined them in early August, and in mid-August, 48 additional short-term observers arrived in Zimbabwe. The delegation was led by the former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria, Attahiru Muhammadu Jega.

For unexplained reasons, Zimbabwean authorities would not approve accreditation for 30 of the Center’s short-term observers, even though they had been provided visas and were in the country. On Aug. 22, the Center issued a public statement asking the government of Zimbabwe to approve the accreditations, calling the failure to do so a severe and unwarranted obstruction to the Center’s mission that was inconsistent with commonly recognized and respected norms and practices and unprecedented in the Center’s 30-plus years of observing elections. Despite this, their accreditation was never approved.

The Center found that the 2023 elections took place in a restricted political environment with an unlevel playing field and that the election administration lacked independence and transparency in key areas, undermining the credibility of the process. Overall, the Center concluded that the 2023 electoral process did not adequately respect Zimbabwe’s regional and international commitments for democratic and inclusive elections, which made it difficult for contestants to compete on an equal basis and prevented the genuine expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people.

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