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


Back to Index

This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • 31 July elections results do not reflect the will of the people
    Zimbabwe Democracy Institute
    August 02, 2013

    In July 2013, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) examined the Zimbabwe electoral processes focusing on the mobile voter registration process and demonstrated that the process was chaotic and insufficient to deliver credible, free and fair elections.

    Our findings were vindicated by the shambolic nature of the special voting. It was impossible from the start of the process to imagine a credible election when basic things such as a legitimate voters' roll were disputed.

    The ZDI findings corroborates with what transpired as failure to comply with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) standards on democratic elections and legal requirements were evidenced by the levels of manipulation of electoral processes and voters' roll.

    Electoral rules in this election were manipulated through such issues as who is registered to vote and how citizens voted. Voter registration in process was biased against urban areas which are perceived opposition strongholds. The voters' roll of 19 June provided by the Registrar General's office proves beyond reasonable doubt that urban voters were disenfranchised. They were denied the right to register to vote and ultimately the right to participate in the harmonized election.

    A number of urban voters were further disadvantaged when they were turned away from voting on the actual polling day. A number of reasons were cited, among them, failure to identify the correct ward and that of names not appearing in the voters' roll. On another note, allowing people to vote using voting slips created even more problems than what was simply anticipated. This became a loophole for a rigging strategy, as some people were found with multiple voting slips in Hatfield.

    A voter's roll that is endorsed by political and civic players as well as the general public is a critical ingredient of holding undisputed polls in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the voters' roll has been for quite some time, a critical center of contestations and disputations because the electoral authorities have privatized both the registration process and the voters' roll.

    Up to the voting day, people had not received the electronic voters roll which is a key mechanism to counter rigging. As a result, it became impossible to analyze the voters who were resident in certain areas of concern.

    ZDI also observed huge movements of people outside of Harare who voted in such areas as Mount Pleasant and Harare East. The voters were coordinated and organized to deliver a particular electoral outcome. What was clear was that these people were not residents of these affluent suburbs of Harare. It means that residents of areas especially Mount Pleasant will not get representatives of their choices. This cannot be deemed democratic.

    On the basis of the manipulated voters' roll, the 31 July election cannot be deemed credible, free, fair and legitimate.

    The absence of violence alone cannot be used to determine the credibility of the poll. Other critical issues such as the administration of the election particularly the disputed and manipulated voters' roll are critical.

    ZDI since its formation last year through its researches highlighted the need to democratize and professionalize the secretariat of the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) and remove partisan people with a security background.

    In this election, it was apparent that the security forces through the National Logistics Committee a sub-committee of ZEC was responsible for running the poll. While the security chiefs were not publicly involved in electoral affairs as they did in the past, the hidden influence of the security sector was there in the administration of the poll directly and indirectly.

    It was also the observation of ZDI that opposition political parties and civic bodies could not find answers or unlock what appeared to be organized manipulation of the election especially when it became apparent that ZEC was determined to keep the voters' roll a secret.

    Moving forward, ZDI recommends that there be robust research into how this election was administered with a view of getting all the empirical evidence so that the coming elections are done better.

    Research should be done to reveal more data on how the election was manipulated at the institutional level so that such infrastructure is dismantled ahead of future polls.

    ZEC should also be revamped so that it becomes an independent electoral body that discharges its duties impartially.

    The management of elections including the voters roll should purely be a responsibility of ZEC and the executive should have nothing to do with it apart from providing resources to the election management body.

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