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  • 2002 Presidential & Harare Municipal elections - Index of articles

  • Post-Election Assessment
    Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
    March 12, 2002

    The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has been monitoring the 2002 Presidential Elections since the general parliamentary elections in the year 2000. The pre-election period has been marked by the following developments:

    The ‘fast tracking’ of legislation that impacts on the electoral process resulting in:

    • Disenfranchising voters through the voter registration process;
    • Registration of voters beyond 3 March 2002;
    • “Correcting” the voters’ roll;
    • Control of voter education through the Electoral Supervisory Commission;
    • Drawing election supervisors and monitors from the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs and Education;
    • Disallowing postal voting;
    • Constituency-based voting;
    • Simultaneous holding of municipal and Presidential elections;
    • Restrictions concerning the accompanying of ballot boxes;
    • Printing of extra ballot papers;
    • Very restrictive and oppressive Public Order and Security Act;

    In addition, several other measures have been of great concern to us:

    • Unequal access to the sate controlled media, in particular the state media, with a bias towards the ruling party;
    • Restrictions concerning both local and international observers;
    • Confiscation and destruction of identity cards by youths of the ruling party;
    • The establishment of illegal road blocks by youths of the ruling party;
    • Political violence, including torture and murders, largely perpetrated by ruling party supporters against members and supporters of the opposition;
    • The selective enforcement of the law by law enforcement agents;

    The conduct of the poll

    The Electoral Supervisory Commission accredited, at the last minute, only 400 observers from our network, less than one hundredth of the names that ZESN had submitted. This severely curtailed the ability of ZESN and its network of 38 civic organizations from effectively observing the elections.

    We are very concerned about the deliberate distribution of polling stations countrywide. There was a phenomenal increase in the number of polling stations in the rural areas, in particular mobile polling stations that are difficult to monitor and observe. Stations in the urban areas were reduced by as much as 50 percent in some constituencies while those in the rural areas were increased. In Harare and Chitungwiza, this was particularly worrying in that there were tripartite and bipartite elections being held. The result was chaotic. Tens of thousands of Harare and Chitungwiza voters were unable to vote even after the extension of voting by one day. It is important to note that reports from Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare, Bulawayo and Matebeleland North indicated that several voters were no able to vote by Sunday night and many were under the impression that there would be an extension of voting days countrywide. Hence, even as vote counting begins, tens of thousands of Zimbabweans were deliberately and systematically disenfranchised of their fundamental right to participate in the governance of their country. Without the participation of the full electorate there can be no democracy.

    Meanwhile, we express great concern about the figures we are being provided concerning the number of registered voters in the rural and urban areas. It appears there has been a deliberate attempt to significantly inflate the numbers of voters in the rural areas.

    ZESN commends the Zimbabwean populace for their resilience and determination to remain peaceful in the face of this potential national crisis.


    These elections violate almost all of the SADC Parliamentary Forum Norms and Standards.

    • Voter registration was discriminatory and not transparent.
    • Voter education was disrupted and there was insufficient time for the ESC to conduct voter education after the legislation was drafted.
    • The fast tracking of legislation meant that there was insufficient time for the ESC to train its 22 000 monitors all of whom were civil servants in particular the army and police.
    • It is inappropriate to include civil servants to monitor the Registrar General’s office. This task should have remained with civil society.
    • There were disturbing episodes of violence even during the polling days – opposition polling agents and our own monitors harassed and prevented from carrying out their work.
    • There was questionable data on the rural and urban divide which stated that there was a higher voter turnout in the rural areas than in the urban centers.

    In summary, there is no way these elections could be described as substantially free and fair.

    As a result of these issues, ZESN recommends the need for an Independent Electoral Commission that is protected by law and well resourced to carry out elections.

    ZESN warns that a flawed electoral process a potential cause of conflict but calls on the people to remain calm but firm, resolute even after the results are released.

    Dr Reginald Matchaba-Hove


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