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    Sunday, 1 July 2018

    EU observers get rude awakening in Chiredzi


    MORRIS BISHI
    CHIREDZI BUREAU

    CHIREDZI – Two European Union election observers deployed in Chiredzi were left shaken on Tuesday afternoon when a Central Intelligence Officer identified as Innocent Ncube demanded their passports, ZEC badges and photocopied them before taking away the copies.
    Friedarike Santner from Austria and Christophe Menou from France were allegedly intercepted on the street in full view of the public and whisked away into a backyard shop called Legend where the photocopying was done.
    Santner confirmed the incident but referred all questions to the observer mission spokesperson  Eberhard Laue in Harare,
    Laue could not be reached for comment on his  mobile number and had not responded to an email sent by The Mirror at the time of going to Press.
    ZEC public relations director Justin Manyau declined to comment on the matter arguing that the issue did not involve his organisation.
    District Central Intelligence Officer, Joseph Urimbo initially professed ignorance on the matter but later called and said that Ncube was accompanying the observers to photocopy some documents that were required by the District Administrator.
    Efforts to get a comment from the District Administrtator were fruitless.
     Some Chiredzi residents who witnessed the incident and called The Mirror said that the two observers were visibly shaken by the incident.
    Effforts to get a comment from Menou were fruitless as he did not could not be reached for comment. He did not continue with his assignments later that afternoon after the incident as he allegeldy developed a fever.
    Sources said that incident was true but it was the work of an overzealous intelligence officer. There are allegations that intelligence officers in Chiredzi act on the instructions of powerful and wealth sugarcane farmers who are Zanu PF candidates.
    The two observers are part of  one of the two long term observer teams deployed by the EU in Masvingo Province. The teams have two members each.
    The first covers the Northern part of Masvingo which is Masvingo District, Chivi and Gutu and the second team covers Chiredzi, Mwenezi, Zaka and Bikita districts. Each team is made up of two observers and their supporting staff which includes an aide and a driver.
    The team in Chiredzi arrived on Saturday and met various groups on Monday to discuss issues to do with the coming elections. They also visited media organisations with their first call being The Mirror offices in a bid to hear and understand how the media is related to the electoral process.
    "We have two teams of long term observers in Masvingo province with one team covering the northern part while the other team is in the southern part. Each team comprises of two long term observers but there will be short term observers during the election period. We will be here until the 15th of August after the end of elections," said Santner.
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