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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Statement on the special voting exercise & ZEC's readiness to deliver a free and fair election on July 31
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    July 18, 2013

    The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) would like to add its voice to the growing crescendo of electoral stakeholders expressing grave concerns and disapproval of the shambolic, tragic and shameful way in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) conducted the just ended Special Voting Exercise on 14, 15 and 16 July 2013.

    The shambolic and opaque manner in which the Special Voting was conducted has shown beyond refutation that the Elections Management body is yet to fully prepare to conduct peaceful, free, fair and credible elections in Zimbabwe.

    ZEC’s performance has begged the question - if they cannot be faithful over little (80 000 special voters) how can they be faithful over much (a Harmonized Election with an excess of over 6 million eligible voters)? As part of the electoral process, the bungling that was witnessed during the special voting process has got serious ramifications on the integrity of ZEC as the administering body and on the election itself.

    The noted discrepancies and apparent ill preparedness noticed during the special voting process calls for serious and honest reflections by ZEC and the people of Zimbabwe on the veracity of claims made by ZEC they are ready to conduct elections. Conditions in the country already show that the nation is being marshaled to an election without choice and under conditions that are not conducive to the conduct of peaceful, free, fair and credible elections.

    Of serious concern, amongst other issues, to the Coalition were the following observations:

    • The inordinate delays in the provision of essential voting materials such as ballot papers, ink and ballot boxes at most voting centers during the period earmarked for special voting., which led to ‘special voters’ being subjected to long waits, fatigue, and long ques.
    • Allegations, on good authority, that some security forces were made to write down their ballot paper serial numbers for their senior’s prying eyes, infringing on the sacrosanct principle of free choice and secrecy of the vote as well as insulation and security of the voter.
    • The disenfranchisement of some members of the Police, the army and other special voters, whose authorizations were either misplaced or not found amidst the ZEC administered chaos.
    • Partiality by ZEC officials in their handling and addressing of political actors competing in this election, as exemplified by sentiments by ZEC Vice Chairperson Kazembe, who put the blame of the chaos, confusion and bungling on the MDCs, instead of owning up and apologizing. Leaving many wondering whether she is an Independent Commissioner or a Political party Commissar.

    Even more unacceptable is the fact that the electoral Commission did not maturely pick themselves up, apologize to the nation and professionally dust their act.

    The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, among other Civil Society groups, at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit in Maputo on June 15 warned that there was need for more time and better preparation for the 2013 harmonized elections. Since the proclamation of the Election day, there has been ample evidence that ZEC and the country are clearly not ready to stage a peaceful, free, fair and credible election. Amongst the telling signs have been the following, which are not conclusive:

    • The partisan nature that state broadcaster and newspapers continue to carry out their work with no sanctions and action by ZEC as it is constitutionally mandated to do.
    • The fact that ZEC, save for the deceit of publicly calling for written applications, also employed delaying tactics to accrediting civil society organizations for voter education and observation until the mobile voter registration process lapsed on July 9, making the issue of our exclusion a fait accompli.
    • The exclusionary nature of the voter registration exercise which left thousands of Zimbabweans who were willing to register stranded without recourse after ZEC refused to extend the registration period in spite of the fact that the constitution allows it to, but more importantly to uphold the principle of inclusion and allowing everyone who wants to participate to do so.
    • The continued opaqueness around the availability and sourcing of funds to run the election.
    • The disputes around the timing and legal framework and pre-requisites for the elections.
    • The clear and accurate assessment by the facilitator and SADC on the state of readiness of Zimbabwe to conduct elections and the minimum reforms that are required to do so with some credibility.
    • The consistent calls for reforms and a salubrious environment by CSO’s.

    The Zimbabwe Elections Commission is carrying the expectations and hopes of millions of Zimbabweans, some of whom are beginning to think that ZEC’s shambolic display may be for deceitful reasons, which remain mysterious and are not for the good of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

    The Coalition cannot avoid concluding that the ZEC, despite its deliberate assertions to the contrary, is not ready to conduct a credible election, and circumstances have set it up for a calamitous and torrid time as the obvious result of the above stated shortcomings have began to rob the electoral process of its credibility risking another sham election on July 31.

    The Coalition has observed that the above is at variance and in contravention of both the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the aspirations and expectations of Zimbabwean as espoused in the Feya Feya Principles drafted and adopted by over 83 organisations in Bulawayo on June 27 2013.

    A judgment of the electoral processes so far, measured against the the Feya Feya Campaign’s principals, makes the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition pronounce, with a tortured heart, that part of the tenets have been flagrantly violated, some possibly beyond redress.

    The Coalition specifically refers to Feya Feya Principle 1 demanding ZEC neutrality, Feya Feya Principle 6 that ZEC should generally act with honesty and integrity, Feya Feya Principle 5 that voting should be done in secrecy, as well as Feya Feya Principle 10 that all eligible Zimbabweans must be allowed to vote.

    The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition continues to insist on Feya Feya Principle 2 for fair media coverage of candidates and contesting parties by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and Zimpapers, Feya Feya Principles 7 that demands security sector neutrality and Feya Feya Principle 11 that regional actors and solidarity partners should not encourage Zimbabwe to compromise on international standards and best practices on democratic elections.

    The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition commits to the attention of the SADC and African Union (AU) peoples as represented by the two blocs’ Observer Missions, the unfolding drama in Zimbabwe and asks for their urgent action as guarantors to encourage immediate remedial action without foreclosing the possibility of postponing the July 31 election as a solution. Based on current form, July 31 is clearly a disaster waiting to happen, denting the credibility of Zimbabwe, SADC, the African Union and the principle of African Solutions to African problems.

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