A delegation from Zimbabwe visited the EPD Offices in connection with the UN International Day of Democracy celebrations as well as the third anniversary of the Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe. Events took place both at the EPD Office in The Hague and at the EPD headquarters in Brussels in order to create a constructive dialogue with policy makers.
The delegation was composed of Mr Gift Marunda, National Coordinator of the Select Committee of Parliament of the New Constitution (COPAC); Mr Dominico Chidakuza, Chief Law Officer for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC); and Ms Getrude Mhlanga, Programme Officer of the Zimbabwe-Europe Partnership for Democracy.
The first part of the trip, in The Hague (14-18 September), saw the participation of the delegation at several lectures about the upcoming elections and democratic transition in Zimbabwe at the House of Democracy.
The second round of activities took place in Brussels (19-22 September) at the EU Institutional level. Synergies were found and knowledge shared with policy makers and officials from the European Institutions and the Dutch Government. In a number of informal meetings the participants shared advice on the current situation in Zimbabwe, with a focus on the constitutional reform process, the future referendum, upcoming elections within the GPA framework and the role and challenges facing the government, multiparty and civil society organizations.
During the above mentioned meetings and the European Parliament hearing on “Democracy in Zimbabwe, taking stock three years after the power sharing deal”, hosted by MEP Olle Schmidt, the delegation from Zimbabwe together with members of the Civil Society in Zimbabwe presented the progress made since the 2008 elections and the expected outcomes of the next elections. Special attention was paid to CSOs’ role in effectively engaging the government institutions within the national political process and to possible ways for the government to improve the national procedures with a view to ensuring free and fair elections, using new means and measures and reducing potential violence and intimidations.
The delegation found rich soil for cooperation and improved communication both with EU and local actors. The outcomes showed also a need for further visits to Brussels with a view to informing the EU about the progress of the democratic process and providing feedback on EU policies from the ground.