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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
on Zimbabwe elections
August 02, 2013
of the African Union Commission, Her Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-
Zuma, deployed a 60 member African Union Election Observation Mission
(AUEOM) to the 31 July 2013
Harmonised Elections in the Republic of Zimbabwe in accordance
with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance
(2007) and the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic
Elections in Africa (2002).
His Excellency, Chief
Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
led the AU-EOM supported by the Deputy Head of Mission, Her Excellency,
Dr Aisha Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs, African
Union Commission. Members of the Mission are drawn from the Pan-African
Parliament, African Ambassadors to the African Union in Addis Ababa,
Election Management Bodies (EMBs) and Civil Society Organisations.
The Mission is supported by a team of experts from the African Union
Commission (AUC), the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the Electoral
Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).
The African Union (AU)
Mission’s observation of the 31 July 2013 Harmonised Elections
in the Republic of Zimbabwe adopted the Long Term Observation Methodology,
which covers the pre-election, election and post election phases.
The first component of the AU Mission involved the deployment of
9 Long Term Observers (LTOs) on June 15 who observed several components
of the electoral cycle including: voter registration, candidates’
nomination, campaigning, voter education, the training of election
officials, special voting and other aspects of the pre-election
The second component
was the deployment of 60 Short Term Observers (STOs) who joined
the LTOs on 23 July 2013.
After arrival in the
country, the Mission Leadership met with the relevant authorities
and various electoral stakeholders, including the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC), presidential candidates, political parties, government
officials and civil society groups. The Mission deployed 26 teams
of observers to all 10 provinces across the country to observe the
final stages of the campaigns, pre-polling activities, and polling
and counting in 350 voting stations.
Election day findings
Drawing on the plethora
of information gathered in the pre-election phase; and based on
its observations and consultations with a range of stakeholders;
the AUEOM hereby issues the following preliminary statement:
1. The poll
was an important phase in a series of measures undertaken by the
Government, under the terms of the Global
Political Agreement of 2008, during which Zimbabweans approved
a new Constitution. The Mission notes further that the new Constitution,
enacted in May 2013, contributed immensely towards the improvement
of the political climate in the country for holding peaceful elections.
2. On 31 July 2013, Zimbabweans
went to the polls with enthusiasm and in large numbers to elect
their President, Parliamentarians and Local Authorities. The voting
and counting processes took place in a peaceful and tranquil environment.
Most of the polling stations observed by the AUEOM opened on time
and were generally fully staffed, with all the required materials,
and adequately secured by the Zimbabwe Republican Police [ZRP].
3. The poll followed
a generally peaceful campaign period for which the Mission commends
Zimbabwean citizens and political parties who consistently conveyed
messages of peace and non-violence to their supporters and the public
4. The voting was carried
out in an atmosphere devoid of violence, harassment and disturbances.
of the electoral management body
5. The Mission notes
that the institutionalisation of an electoral management body in
Zimbabwe, in line with AU principles for democratic elections, has
improved confidence in the integrity and professionalism of Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission to manage elections.
The Mission notes the
improvement in the manner in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
managed the logistics of the 31 July, election after the lessons
learnt from the special voting process.
6. The Mission further
notes the initiatives taken by the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission
to recruit and train officials who were professional in the conduct
of the process on Election Day.
7. The Mission
observes generally, that from a historical perspective and in comparison
to the 2008
elections, Zimbabwe has made an important transition in the
conduct of its elections.
8. However, the AUEOM,
also takes cognisance of several short-comings in the preparations
for the poll and on polling day:
of the Voters’ Roll by the public and provision of copies
a. While Sections
20 and 21 of the Electoral
Act requires ZEC to provide a copy of the Voters Roll within
‘a reasonable’ period of time, the Mission notes that
the final Voters Roll, was made publicly available two days before
the election - rather late for meaningful inspection and verification
by voters, parties and candidates to take place.
b. Whereas, the Mission
takes note of the rationalisation provided by the Registrar-General
of Voters (RGV) to the Mission leadership in respect of the financial
and time constraints faced by the RGV in compiling, updating and
finalising the Voters Roll within the limited timeframes following
the proclamation by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe of
the 31 July as the election date, it is our view that the reasons
for the non-availability of electronic copies of the final Voters
Roll should have been publicly communicated to ease the anxieties
that have been consistently expressed by several stakeholders throughout
the pre-election period.
c. Given the strategic
importance of a Voters’ Roll to the conduct of a transparent
electoral process, it is the Mission’s view that the RGV and
ZEC should have collaborated to ensure that all stakeholders were
timely and regularly updated on the constraints and challenges relating
to the Voters’ Roll; and efforts being made to rectify them
to meet the 31 July deadline.
The Mission believes
this could have minimised the persistent negative pre-election perceptions
regarding the Voters’ Roll. Further, greater transparency
on the matter may have allayed fears raised by political contestants
on the veracity of the voter’s roll.
d. The Mission continues
to express grave concerns about the matter of the Voters’
Despite assertions by
the RGV that hard copies of the voter roll were availed to all political
parties, - other than for one political party - observers have found
no evidence that hard copies were generally available to all who
required them and who by law should have them.
e. Related to this, the
Mission notes serious concerns raised by some stakeholders regarding
the duplication and omission of voter names, which must not be allowed,
casting doubts on the possible outcomes of the elections. The concerns
about the voters roll are critical in determining the degree of
disenfranchisement or disqualification of legitimate voters from
f. It is the Mission’s
view that, the Voters’ Roll should be made available on time
and displayed publicly in accordance with the law.
of ballot papers
g. The Mission notes
that the number of ballot papers printed (8.7 million), corresponding
to 35% above the number of registered voters, was significantly
higher than international best practices (5 -10%) and raises concerns
of accountability of unused ballots.
It is the Mission’s
hope that ZEC will accomplish the task of accounting for the ballots
to the satisfaction of stakeholders and all interested parties.
h. The Mission further
notes that a significant number of local government ballot booklets
had missing ballot papers and were not serially identified.
One such case was noted
at a polling station at Town House where two local government ballot
booklets had only 99 papers instead of 100.
incidence of voters turned away
i. The Mission notes
with great concern the high incidence of voters who were turned
away at polling stations. Illustrative of this widespread phenomenon,
in a polling station in Gwanda, Matebeleland South, 85 voters were
Reasons adduced by polling
officers varied from voters appearing at the wrong ward and names
not found on the Voters’ Roll.
publication of final list of polling stations
j. The late publication
of the final list of polling stations, barely 48 hours to the opening
of polls, may have contributed significantly to the high number
of voters who were turned away for being at the wrong polling stations
and/or redirected to other polling stations or referred to the Command
AU observers generally
noted the recurrence of this phenomenon in various polling stations
It would help to allay
the fears and reduce agitation about possible disenfranchisement
if ZEC would make public the total number of eligible voters that
could not exercise their civil right and duty of voting.
number of assisted voters
k. The Mission notes
the occurrence of high number of assisted voters in many polling
stations nation-wide. Examples include polling stations in Muzarabani
District, Mashonaland Central; at Musengizi, at the time of observation,
97 voters out of 370 were assisted; Kapembere Primary School 77
voters out of 374 were assisted and Bore Primary School 85 voters
out of 374 were assisted.
Furthermore, at a polling
station observed by the AU Mission in Manicaland there were 97 assisted
voters out of a total of 370 voters.
l. While the current
electoral laws provide for assistance by presiding officers, electoral
officers and police officers, the involvement of such officials
may influence or restrict the free will of the assisted voter.
m. The media was highly
polarised along party lines and generally biased in their reporting,
in clear violation of Article 160 J of the Electoral Act.
The Mission reiterates
that the State broadcaster could have provided a balanced platform
for all competing parties and alternative voices in accordance with
Article 17(3) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and
The African Union Mission
hereby clarifies that this is a preliminary statement based on observations
and consultations undertaken until the end of Polls.
The Mission will therefore
continue to observe the process until its conclusion, when a final
assessment will be made.
The AU Long Term Observers
will remain in-country until 14 August 2013 to observe the post-election
The AU Mission will release
a more detailed final report with recommendations that will be shared
with the Zimbabwean authorities and availed to the general public
through the African Union website within a two month timeframe.
The Mission wishes to
express its hope for a successful conclusion to the 2013 Harmonised
Elections, and urges all electoral stakeholders in Zimbabwe to continue
to communicatemessages of peace and non-violence to sustain the
reigning calm political environment.
To this end, it is critical
for all contesting political parties to pursue the established legal
channels and dispute resolution mechanisms in resolving disagreements
that might arise.
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