Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections, scheduled for July 31:

“Robert Mugabe has mercilessly ruled over the people of Zimbabwe for 33 years. For more than three decades the government systemically suppressed opposition voices, promoted corruption at the highest levels, and destroyed the economy. 

“The upcoming July 31st election will be characterized by registration and voter roll manipulation – the modus operandi of Mugabe. In many areas there are more registered voters than adults. NGO groups report two million youth have not been registered. The government has blocked mass SMS text messages – a powerful means to spread news and information. 

“The premature election date has been forced upon the country by Mugabe despite international calls for postponement, which  could have given the country  time to implement crucial electoral reforms.  But we all know a legitimate vote has never been Mugabe’s desire.  

“I urge SADC and the AU, the only election observers that haven’t been banned, to be steadfast in their reporting, and to take into consideration not only the technical voting process on election day, but the actions of Mugabe and the ZANU-PF leading up to it.  The people of Zimbabwe deserve a democratic process.  Sadly, it looks like Mugabe, one of the longest serving dictators, will maintain his power at the expense of the democratic rights of the people of Zimbabwe.”   

Note: From 1997 to 2004 Royce chaired the Subcommittee on Africa, working to promote democracy and the rule of law in Africa.