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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Crisis Report - Issue 205
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    July 31, 2013

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    Election irregularities

    Voting currently underway, as Zimbabweans vote in crucial harmonised elections to choose councillors, members of parliament and the President, today, the 31st of July 2013. Since 7am when voting began, there has been overwhelming high turn-out of voters who started queuing as early as 03:00hours. The situation in the country is relatively peaceful and stable with a few incidents of intimidation, coercion and violence in some parts of the country. Although voting is going on smoothly at most polling stations, various election irregularities have been detected by some observers across the country and these include a presence of police officers in polling stations, many “assisted voters” despite being literate and a deliberate slowing of the voting process particularly in Harare.

    Section 55(7) of the Zimbabwe Electoral Act provides that enough police officers must be available in the immediate vicinity of each polling station whilst Section 55(7a)(c) provides that they must exercise their duties of maintaining law and order in polling stations under the direction and instruction of the Presiding Officer hence they shouldn’t necessarily sit around in polling stations as this has traditionally “intimidated” voters. One particular incident of heavy police presence was noted at Rusununguko Primary School, Mufakose where there were 4 police officers inside the polling station and 15 more who were outside the polling station. At Kuwadzana 2 Community Hall, and Mufakose High 1 School, both in Harare, there were 2 police officers inside the polling stations, one at the door and the other seated next to the Presiding Officer, reportedly taking down details of those who were walking in to cast their ballots and other unknown details which they were scribbling down.

    In response to the raised concern around the heavy police presence, Mr Tawanda Chimhini, Director of the Election Resource Centre (ERC), indicated that according to the Electoral Amendment Act, it is lawful for the police to be seen in and around polling stations but however expressed grave concern on such presence which may have a huge impact on the election result outcome. “Victims of politically motivated violence may be intimidated by the mere presence of the police who have been seen as champions of human rights violations by either directly perpetrating violence on civilians or by deliberately ignoring incidents of politically motivated violence,” he said.

    Mr Chimhini added that the police leadership has openly pronounced that they support Zanu-PF and will not accept or salute any President who does not have liberation war credentials hence it remains a major concern if the police are seen to be “interfering” with the voting process.

    The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has also gathered that there are some voters who are claiming to be “illiterate” hence requiring assistance. At Muroyi Polling Station, 36 voters requested assistance to vote whilst 45 were also assisted in Zaka Central, Ward 9 in Masvingo, 37 at Gutu, 45 at Rusununguko Primary School in Mufakose, as they claimed to be illiterate. Such a trend was witnessed even in March this year during the Referendum where some political parties coached their supporters and other eligible voters to claim that they could not cast their votes without assistance. Elections experts have deemed this issue as an attempt to subvert the vote by influencing a certain particular voting pattern and outcome.

    In this light, the ERC Director, Mr Chimhini stated that it is unfortunate that the international observers did not deter such irregularities which began during the pre- election period. “Election Day observation alone is inadequate, had the international observers been closely monitoring the entire electoral process, such coaching of would be voters would have been detected and dealt with way before the Election Day. These are efforts by certain political parties to influence voters in their favour. We can only hope that international observers get the context and possible consequences of such behaviour.”

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