THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index, Back to Special Index

This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Zimbabwe Transition Barometer - Issue 05
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (SA Regional Office)
    June 30, 2013

    Download this document
    - Acrobat PDF version (927KB)
    If you do not have the free Acrobat reader on your computer, download it from the Adobe website by clicking here

    Executive Summary

    Media reforms continue to dominate debate on pre-election reforms in Zimbabwe. Harassment of journalists, through impeding their work and physical abuse, as well as on suspicious and spurious charges continued in the past 2 months. The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) of 2002 and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) of 2002 have stifled freedom of expression and general media freedoms. The state media continued to function with a strong partisan bias in favour of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) and in disdain of other political parties, especially the Movement for Democratic (MDC) formations. The operations and behaviour of state owned media houses contravenes section 61(4) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for impartiality and fair representation, including that of all political parties. This also breaches section 61(5) which specifies on freedom of expression as a merited right for all citizens and institutions. The likelihood of increased media polarity as the country heads towards the general elections continues to be high. The state media is likely to continue to prop up Zanu-PF while the independent media will ostensibly back MDC positions. The recent recommendations by SADC at its Maputo extra-ordinary summit held on 15 June 2013, to establish an inter-ministerial committee to oversee pre-election media reforms, can be a trigger for positive change. However, implementation in the limited time available will be a considerable challenge.

    The voter registration process has had two phases. The first 20-day phase was in the April/May period while the second 30-day phase began on 10 June and will legally end on 9 July 2013. Some of the normative positive developments in the second phase of voter registration process were:

    • Those considered as “aliens” were able to attain full citizenship;
    • The proof of residence requirement was replaced with the introduction of an affidavit; and
    • Voter registration was in this period, supposed to be ward-based for easier access by registrants.

    However, some of the challenges faced in the first phase have all persisted in the second phase of registration. These are:

    • Irregular guidelines at registration centres;
    • Inadequate information available to the public;
    • Irregular opening times of some centres; and,
    • Skewed distribution of registration centres suspected to be along political party dominant areas;

    Since democratic tenets emphasize on the need for equal participation in elections, the challenges outlined above impact negatively on attaining a democratic transition.

    The consummation of a second phase of registration, in accordance with 6th Schedule of the new Constitution, Part 3, section 6(3), was commendable as the first phase failed to serve all potential registrants. The second phase seemed to attempt compliance with constitutional guidelines. The ultimate goal is to produce a credible voters’ roll at the end of these processes, a quest that still needs to be achieved. However, without clarity on the mechanisms and the empirical procedures of ensuring a credible voters’ roll, the forthcoming election remains in danger of being disputed.

    The Zimbabwe Cabinet agreed on the amendments to the Electoral Act, needed to align the act to the new Constitution. Although President Mugabe invoked the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to “fast track” the enactment of the Electoral Act, SADC recommended that this be done through the due Parliamentary process and also that POSA and AIPPA be reviewed by Parliament for alignment to the new Constitution. The process of aligning the legal framework to the new Constitution urges the democratisation quest and ensures operationalization of the Constitution. However, the current emphasis is on aligning those legal instruments that have a direct impact on the pending harmonised elections. The rest of the alignment process will then be assigned to the next Parliament, after elections. Amendments to the Electoral Act will impact positively on transparency of the voting process, the minimisation of intimidation and the creation of opportunities for parallel voter tabulation. Although all Global Political Agreement (GPA) parties were consensual in amending the Electoral Act, Zanu-PF has indicated that it will resist when it comes to POSA and AIPPA.

    SADC’s role in the Zimbabwe conflict has evolved over the last five years. Previously the regional bloc was divided and failed to build consensus on key positions. It also “skirted around” issues and ‘lacked the courage’ to proclaim its expectations and to censure parties that were in contempt. To-date, the regional bloc has become more emphatic. The extra-ordinary summit held in Maputo was reflective of this new dimension, now characteristic of SADC. The intergovernmental status of the regional bloc, however, still creates limitations in being fully involved in major internal issues of member-states clothed under sovereignty, a factor that Zanu-PF has at times fully exploited. The demands that SADC has made as pre-election conditions in Zimbabwe will have a definite impact on the democratisation process in the country, should there be full implementation. SADC now needs to build effective and timeous implementation, evaluation and monitoring mechanisms of those issues that it has called for in Zimbabwe.

    The date for elections has always been elusive since the commencement of the GPA. As early as 2010, Zanu-PF was calling for elections. In 2013, Zanu-PF insisted on an election by June 29, 2013 upon the expiry of the term of the current Parliament. The Constitutional Court ruling of May 31 2013 led to the President proclaiming an election date of July 31. The dates as well as the decision-making consideration by the Court were both challenged by political players and some citizens. SADC recommended that the political parties find consensus on some pre-election reforms, with the assistance of SADC facilitators and then approach the Constitutional Court for a possible extension of the election date.

    It is the democratic right of the electorate to know the timing of elections. Ordinarily, such timing must not be decided through legal processes but political platforms. Seeking legal recourse in determining the election date is an indicator of the political polarisation existent in any society. Though approaching the courts affords the “rule of law” to take precedence, the failure of the political system to find consensus on election dates implies the weaknesses of political democratic decision-making. We now turn to the details of the empirics to substantiate our argument that if an election were held by the 31st of July 2013, the likely outcome is a prolonged transition.

    Download full document

    Visit the Crisis in Zimbabwe fact sheet

    Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.