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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • BOCISCOZ press statement on the reasons why the Zimbabwe harmonised elections on 31 July 2013 may not be fair and credible
    Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Zimbabwe
    July 30, 2013

    The Botswana Civil Society Solidarity Coalition for Zimbabwe (BOCISCOZ) is concerned that the upcoming Zimbabwe harmonised elections on 31 July 2013, may not be fair and credible. BOCISCOZ would like to raise the following concerns:

    • Given the financial constraints and short time period set, the adequate and effective planning for the elections has not been done. A consequence of inadequate planning was seen during the special voting by police and army officials on 14 July 2013. A majority of the security forces who will be on duty during the July 31 election, were unable to vote due to the late delivery and distribution of ballot papers, as well as delays at polling stations. The Constitutional Court has ruled that the officials who failed to vote in the special vote will be able to do so on 31 July 2013. Concerns raised include that this may render the system vulnerable to double voting by some officials. It may also make it possible for people to vote on behalf of others, as the voters' roll is not reliable. This may affect the credibility of the elections.
    • Zimbabwean citizens in the Diaspora will not be able to vote in this coming election. Section 155(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe obligates the state to ensure that all eligible citizens qualified to vote are registered, and that every citizen who is eligible to vote in an election or referendum is afforded the opportunity to cast a vote. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has only made provision for Zimbabwean civil servants to vote in the Diaspora. By denying other Zimbabweans in the Diaspora the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to vote, this right is being violated. This may affect the credibility of the elections.
    • The number of voters registered in the voters' roll is not reflective of the actual number of people who may vote. A report by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), a non-governmental research body based in Zimbabwe, revealed that the 2013 voters' roll contains names of people who are either absent from Zimbabwe or are deceased. The RAU report stated 'there are well over one million (1,000,000) people on the roll who are either deceased or departed'. The short registration time has made it difficult for people to travel to their constituencies to examine the voters' roll. The incongruity in the voters' roll may result in rigging of votes. As at 29 July 2013, the official voters' roll had not been publicised, yet section 21 of the Zimbabwe Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) requires that the voters' roll be made freely available to all contesting candidates and political parties. This may prevent the elections being credible and fair.
    • There are reports of violence and arrests surrounding the election process. A journalist who took photographs of the registration process was arrested and charged with being a public nuisance in terms of the Miscellaneous Offences Act. Newsday reported that seven (7) MDC-T activists were attacked and injured by suspected Zanu-PF supporters in Chitungwiza when they went to the area to put up campaign posters and distribute fliers of their party. Intimidation may inhibit voters from voting freely for their political party of choice. This may affect the fairness of the election.
    • There is bias in official media reports. The state-run media is biased in favour of Zanu-PF and does not provide adequate coverage of the other political parties. This is in contravention of Zimbabwe's Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) section 160J(a) which states that all political parties and candidates are to be treated equitably in the news media in regard to the extent, timing and prominence of the coverage accorded to them. This biased media reporting may unduly influence the voters thereby affecting the credibility and fairness of the election process.
    • There has been a delay in accreditation of observers. Given the limited number of observers, not all polling stations around the country may be adequately monitored. This leaves margin for election abuses, such as rigging, to occur.

    BOCISCOZ calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to respect the constitutional right of every eligible citizen to vote in the upcoming 2013 elections. Media bodies in Zimbabwe should respect the Zimbabwe Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) and report on election campaigns and the electoral process without fear or favour, and free of all bias.

    BOCISCOZ calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to stop all forms of intimidation and unlawful arrest of citizens participating in opposition campaigns. The Constitution of Zimbabwe guarantees the rights to association and assembly. These rights need to be protected and respected during this election period.

    BOCISCOZ also urges the observers to be diligent in their monitoring to ensure that the 2013 harmonised elections are indeed free, fair and credible.

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