(Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe)
Vice-President Joice Mujuru has indicated that no election observers from Western nations will be allowed to monitor Zimbabwe's next poll, despite the country turning to Western donors for election funding.
"Why should we be monitored by other countries outside the Southern African Development Community when we are a sovereign state?" Mujuru was quoted as saying in the Sunday Mail.
Mujuru said countries that have imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe wanted to "impose themselves on our national election processes to influence the outcome in their favour."
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has been urging Western nations to fund the country's elections because the government cannot afford it. He dramatically announced earlier this year that the state coffers were almost empty, in what he said was an attempt to convince international donors to fund the poll.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) meanwhile has started taking applications from individuals and organisations who want to observe the forthcoming referendum.
Acting ZEC chairperson Joyce Kazembe said all applications, foreign or local, would be considered by the Commission's Observer Accreditation Committee, and that committee would then recommend who should be approved for accreditation.
"According to the electoral law the committee is chaired by the ZEC chairperson and the deputy chairperson is also a member together with a Commissioner," she said.
She added: "Other members will include representatives from the Ministries of Justice and Legal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs mainly the immigration department. This is the committee which looks at all the applications and makes recommendations."