When to call black white: Zimbabwe's electoral reports

Bruce Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Although hundreds of observers witnessed the same presidential election, the diversity of their reports is quite remarkable. Whereas some spoke of them being generally free and fair, others spoke of the abandonment of all electoral standards. Examining the observer responses of Zimbabwean groups, African nations and the West, the extent to which their verdicts are political rather than objective statements becomes apparent. This article argues that the current system of election monitoring lacks adequate justification, is vulnerable to being deceived, is an inexact science, uses members of mixed ability and at times appears to follow scripts pre-written by their sponsors. These flaws in the system are not easily remedied, for all the talk of training observer teams, setting common standards and co-ordinating teams in the future. Politics will never be removed from the decision to send a mission, the choice of members, the writing of the reports and governmental responses to the reports
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1158
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

The full text of this item is not available from the repository.
This is an electronic version of an article published in Third World Quarterly 23(6), 1145-1158. Third World Quarterly is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0143659022000036603


  • election
  • Zimbabwe
  • observers


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