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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Brief report on the 2013 Harmonised Elections: SAPES Policy Dialogue Forum meeting
    Research and Advocacy Unit
    August 06, 2013

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    Preliminary comments

    A number of preliminary comments are necessary in order to more fully understand these elections. The fundamental purpose of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the Inclusive Government was to take Zimbabwe out of crisis into full international acceptability, and this had been necessitated by the unacceptable elections in 2008. However, apart from relatively minor changes, the reform agenda envisaged under the GPA did not materialise, and there was endless wrangling over the “outstanding issues”.

    From the Livingstone Summit in March 2011 right up to the Maputo Summit in June 2013, SADC insisted on a Road Map that had a new Constitution and reforms, and then an election. This again did not happen: the Constitution finally emerged months before the end of the life of the 2008 Parliament, but no reforms had taken place of any substance by the time that the President set the date for elections.

    In Maputo, SADC requested more time to ensure that the elections were credible, but this did not happen. The SADC Facilitator report also specifically mentioned adherence to the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, and it is relevant that a number of Zimbabwean groups made statements about the pre-election, and all largely concluded that there serious problems that appeared in violation of these Principles and Guidelines.

    The pre-election period

    As noted by various Zimbabwean organisations, there were problems in the pre-election period.

    Firstly, the decision of the Constitutional Court to maintain the election date as the 31st July 2013, without detailed judgement, led to a series of illegalities. Most serious of these, and apparently condoned by the Constitutional Court, were the constitutional and legal problems occasioned by the Presidential Proclamation, and the likelihood that the subsequent use of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to make a number of electoral amendments in violation of the Constitution, the legal basis for this election is highly dubious to say the least.

    Secondly, the precipitate proclamation of the election date for the 31st July 2013 itself resulted in a continuous number of illegalities on the part of ZEC, and some of these have had to be “cured” through decisions of the Courts. Paramount amongst these problems were the special votes, and the condoning of the failure to release the voters’ roll.

    Thirdly, there was an apparent bias towards the registration of rural voters in the intensive voter registration process. This seems to be against the intention of the new Constitution 155 (2):

    The State must take all appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to ensure that effect is given to the principles set out in subsection (1) and, in particular, must: -

    (a) ensure that all eligible citizens, that is to say the citizens qualified under the Fourth Schedule, are registered as voters;

    (b) ensure that every citizen who is eligible to vote in an election or referendum has an opportunity to cast a vote, and must facilitate voting by persons with disabilities or special needs;

    Fourthly, there were extreme concerns over the state of the voters’ roll, as indicated by a number of separate audits of the June 2013 Roll, and these concerns were conveyed to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Amongst the concerns were the following found in an audit by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU):

    1. The large discrepancy between the numbers of persons on the voters’ roll and the numbers indicated for each Constituency;

    2. The very large numbers of young persons (under 30 years) that do not seem to have been registered as voters;

    3. The large differences between the numbers of citizens registered in rural areas as opposed to in urban areas, with an overwhelming bias towards older persons again being more represented.

    ZESN found a similar picture on their analysis of the voters’ roll, 99.97% of rural voters as opposed to only 68% of urban voters.

    Additionally, there were serious concerns about the number of duplicate voters [317,913] on the roll as indicated by the statement by Mr. Dumiso Dabengwa. Similar concerns were raised by RAU, conveyed to ZEC, but without response from ZEC. The concern here was that these duplicates all have valid National IDs and that this cannot arise through error. This meant a potential 635,926 votes, with a hugely skewed distribution: 74% of these were in the four Provinces of Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, and the Midlands.

    Sixthly, the final voters’ roll was not made available as required by Section 21 of the Electoral Act, (as amended), and the grounds for this unavailability were unacceptable on the eve of an election. Seventh, the publication of the full list of polling stations and their placement was excessively delayed to the disadvantage of the voters, and in violation of Section 155 (2) of the Constitution. Finally, there were numerous reports by civil society organisations monitoring the pre-election climate of intimidation and increasing violence, predominantly by supporters of Zanu-PF.

    Thus, it can plausibly be claimed that the lead-up to the elections showed a wide number of irregularities, that these irregularities were prima facie violations of the SADC Principles and Guidelines, and may be so serious that they would render the elections not free, fair, or credible.

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