AUSTRALIAN ambassador to Zimbabwe Suzanne McCourt has urged Harare to ensure next year’s general elections are free, fair and credible.
McCourt also appealed to the government to respect human and property rights as well as confront corruption with practical action.
Speaking during Australia Day celebrations held in Harare on Wednesday, McCourt said development partners and Zimbabweans wanted the best for Zimbabwe.
She said this would be achieved by implementing laws that give effect to the people’s hopes and aspirations founded on the new Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“We all want a good ending for this story. We all want the best days of this country to be days to come rather than the days past. I believe we have the clear outline for how this story ends well, founded on the 2013 Zimbabwean Constitution,” McCourt said.
“It means implementing laws that give effect to the people’s hopes and aspirations in this Constitution; it means respecting human rights, respecting property rights; tackling corruption every bit as much with deed as with words; it means ensuring that the conditions are in place for Zimbabweans to go to the polls in a free and fair manner and those results being accepted; it means ensuring that no one is above the law and it means policy certainty.”
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is under pressure to fulfil recommendations by regional body Sadc to implement the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
The Sadc 2013 election observer mission report highlighted that Zec should improve voter education and registration and ensure the inspection of the voters’ roll. Sadc also called for changes to the Public Order and Security Act as well as media and security sector reforms. She said the Australian government this year contributed US$10 million to the World Food Programme’s Southern Africa drought response and a significant proportion came to Zimbabwe.
“Our multi-million dollar commitment to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and agriculture livelihoods programmes over recent years has directly impacted hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans—improving their health and economic prospects,” McCourt said. “We continue to support civil society and use our small grants programme to support projects in schools, orphanages and other community organisations across the nation.”
She said 30 000 Zimbabweans who decided to make Australia their home are making valuable contributions across Australia in sport, arts, in commerce and in industry.