Zimbabwe Lacks Reforms to Ensure Fair Vote, Rights Group Says

(Bloomberg) -- The credibility of Zimbabwe’s July 30 elections, the first since Robert Mugabe stepped down as president, is at risk due to the government’s failure to implement the reforms necessary to ensure a free and fair vote, according to Human Rights Watch.

The security forces are involved in the electoral process, abusive laws remain in effect and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling party is engaging in violence and intimidation, the New York-based human rights group said Thursday, citing its own interviews and research.

“The ability of voters to freely choose their leaders is in serious doubt,” Dewa Mavhinga, the group’s southern Africa director, told reporters in Harare, the capital.

The front-runners in the presidential election are Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe as the nation’s leader in November, and Nelson Chamisa, who heads the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change. While Mnangagwa has pledged to ensure the vote will be free and fair, the MDC has voiced concern about its integrity and said it can’t take place unless a raft of reforms are implemented.

The opposition is demanding the right to scrutinize the voters’ roll and enjoy equal access to the media, and that military personnel be recalled from rural areas.

European Union monitors will observe the vote for the first time since 2002.

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