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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Crisis Report - Issue 212
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    August 16, 2013

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    Election standards below par

    Representatives of opposition political parties and civil society who addressed the public debate in Harare on Thursday, August 15, on the just ended elections said the electoral standards in Zimbabwe had deteriorated, arguing that the recent July 31 election was worse than the March 2008 plebiscite.

    Tawanda Chimhini, the director of Election Resource Centre (ERC), Douglas Mwonzora, the spokesperson of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by out going Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and Edwin Mushoriwa, the Vice-President of the MDC led by Prof. Welshman Ncube said the March 2008 had been relatively free and fair. The trio submitted that by comparison, the 2013 harmonized elections were not violent but unfair while the June 2008 Presidential run-off was violent and extremely not fair.

    “In my view the March 2008 election was far much better than the 2013 election,” Mushoriwa said, explaining that apart from the fact that people campaigned and voted freely, political parties were given the voters’ roll in time to analyze it in March 2008.

    “There are things that made the 2013 election a circus. Up to the Election Day as political parties we were not aware of what sort of voters’ roll we would use.

    “In answering the question, have we gone forward our view is that we have backslidden,” Mushoriwa said.

    Mwonzora pointed to the fact that Section 155 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe describes a legal Zimbabwe election to be one which is “peaceful, free and fair” and anything short of that was unacceptable and subverted people’s will. He went to state that Electoral observers from the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) had not okayed the Zimbabwe July 31 election since it was fraught with irregularities that infringed on fairness.

    “The elections never met SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections. There are nine guidelines and Zimbabwe violated five,” Mwonzora said.

    To substantiate some of the violations, Mwonzora raised the issue of biased media coverage saying, “I actually went to ZBC to correct an MDC advert” because he felt that the electoral campaign advert had been sabotaged by the State broadcaster, in contravention of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Electoral Act and the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.

    The allegations made by Mwonzora were corroborated by regional election observers in their preliminary reports where they point out that the Zimbabwe broadcasting Corporation was biased during the election campaign.

    “Right up until the 30th of July, most of the political parties that contested this election did not even have a voters’ roll. Clearly, as civil society we have backslidden,” Chimhini said. “In other Southern African countries a voters’ roll is not a secret document”.

    The ERC Director said the mobile voter registration was slow and left out more than 500 000 prospective voters, mainly in Harare.

    However, outgoing Zanu-PF legislator for Chivi Central, Paul Mangwana dismissed the inaccessibility of the voters roll as a basis to dispute the elections.

    “In 1980, I voted. I was not on the voters’ roll. The election was internationally accepted,” said Mangwana who maintained that the voters’ roll could not affect the credibility of an election even if contesting parties were not granted their constitutional right to see it by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

    Mushoriwa differed with Mangwana on the value of having an accessible voters roll arguing that the absence of the voters’ roll was a deliberate ploy to benefit the interests of one political party and constituted a major electoral flaw in the 2013 plebiscite.

    He said that Zanu-PF connived and benefited from the underhand dealings to salvage the legacy of President Robert Mugabe after his humiliation in March 2008 elections.

    “Our view is that Zanu-PF rigged the elections. They wanted to make sure that Mugabe’s legacy remains intact,” Mushoriwa said.

    Mangwana said he did not know that an Israeli company called Nikuv had been contracted to prepare the voters’ roll and rig the 2013 elections adding that these allegations were made by the opposition parties in Zimbabwe, Mail & Guardian newspaper and an independent investigative company, Nasini, from South Africa.

    “A lot of allegations were mentioned in respect to the voters’ roll. Unfortunately, there has been limited information in respect to the voters’ roll,” said Chimhini who said the inaccessibility of the voters roll made the process less transparent.

    Mwonzora said his party would take a dossier to the SADC Summit in Malawi to prove his party’s rigging allegations, adding that Zimbabwean elections should not be allowed to be of a lower standard than what the regional bloc prescribes.

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