Back to Index, Back to Special Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Countering electoral manipulation: Strengthening Zimbabwe's chain
of democratic choice
in Zimbabwe Coalition
June 13, 2013
PDF version (1.43MB)
If you do not have the free Acrobat reader
on your computer, download it from the Adobe website by clicking
This paper is
a sequel to our previous edition, Pre-Electoral
Detectors: ZANU PF’s attempt to reclaim political hegemony.
In the previous report we argued that the Zimbabwean state exhibits
tenets of a competitive electoral authoritarian regime. In terms
of real empirics it was our submission that the ZANU PF ruling elite
would prefer to shift from naked violence to more subtle ways of
electoral manipulation. In this paper, we proffer context-specific
interventions that can ensure Zimbabwe gets a free and fair election.
This is premised on building a robust case for consensus on the
five links that can build Zimbabwe’s chain of democratic choice.
These are information, inclusion, insulation, integrity and irreversibility
as we explain in the paper. The consensus should be at a local,
regional and international level emphasizing that a break in one
link does not mean a less democratic election but an undemocratic
In year 2000,
it appeared near impossible that pro-democracy forces would be able
to convince the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that
the crisis in Zimbabwe was not just one of a post-colonial state,
rooted in the neos of imperialism and colonialism. It took a lot
of intellectually laced advocacy to move the key political players
within SADC to appreciate that beyond ZANU PF‘s rhetoric was
a very specific agenda to oppress the people. It was the issue of
naked violence and repression that eventually made SADC to take
a more pro-active role. Now the challenge that confronts Zimbabwe
at this juncture is that ZANU PF is conscious that overt, systematic
and naked violence will delegitimise its ‘victory’ in
the next harmonized election. As we argued in our earlier report,
political parties are not static. ZANU PF is attempting to abandon
and/or minimize naked violence in order to reclaim its political
legitimacy. What would it take to convince SADC again that the Zimbabwe
crisis is not just about state sponsored violence but other modes
of manipulating elections, economic governance, societal cohesion
and institutional collapse?
the scope of this paper we focus on a broad definition of electoral
manipulation which goes beyond the electoral environment, the electoral
process and balloting to include a deeper contextual analysis of
the political system, prevailing political culture and the nature
of the regime itself. This is in acknowledgement of the fact that
recent scholarly work has sought to provide a nuanced distinction
between fraud, malpractice (including criminal malpractice) and
systemic manipulation. Hence in this report the term ‘manipulation’
is what will be broadly used in order to avoid confusion on the
Our belief is
that there is no substitute for rigorous evidence based advocacy
on the democratization of Zimbabwe, both at home and in the region.
The premise of it should be peaceful elections alone are not synonymous
with democracy or with a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. What is
needed is to build a robust case on the need for a chain of democratic
choice at least in relation to the upcoming watershed election.
Regular and, moreso, peaceful elections are insufficient to fulfill
the promise of a democratic choice in Zimbabwe. We follow the genealogy
of Robert Dahl’s wisdom to outline five primacy conditions
that must exist for a free and fair election to happen in Zimbabwe.
As Schedler (2006:40) argues, ‘together these conditions form
a metaphorical chain which, like a real chain, holds together only
so long as each of its links remains whole and unbroken’.
is organized as follows: the first section provides an introduction
which also captures our contextual definitions of electoral fraud
and manipulation; the second section is a presentation of our conceptual
framework premised on the chain of democratic choices; the third
section provides a brief context of democracy and elections in Zimbabwe;
the fourth section juxtaposes our conceptual framework with the
electoral cycle and provides an insight based on hindsight on the
likely rigging points; the fifth section is a discussion of strategies
to detect, deter and mitigate fraud and manipulation in the coming
elections and; the final section is a conclusion which reconciles
our conceptual framework with the possible deterrent and mitigatory
interventions as a way of concluding the report.
Visit the Crisis
in Zimbabwe fact
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.