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2002 Presidential & Harare Municipal elections - Index of articles
Presidential Elections 9-10 March 2002 Statement
Parliamentary Forum Election Observation Mission
March 13, 2002
African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum has completed
its interim assessment of the Zimbabwe 2002 elections.
On the invitation
of the government of Zimbabwe by letter dated February 4, 2002,
the SADC Parliamentary Forum Observer mission constituted a delegation
of 70 members, consisting of 39 Members of Parliament and support
staff drawn from the Secretariat in Windhoek, Namibia and eleven
parliaments of the region.
It is the policy
of the Forum to observe elections of all member states starting
with the pre-election phase. This is the seventh election the Forum
has observed in the region since 1999.
Since its inception
of the observation programme, the Forum has collectively evolved
Norms and Standards for Elections in the SADC region approved in
March 2001. The main objective of the Norms and Standards is to
ensure the conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections in the region.
the elections, the Forum was guided by the constitutional and legal
framework of Zimbabwe and the Norms and Standards for Election
Observation in the SADC Region. Among other things, the Mission
was detailed to assess the security and political environment in
which the elections were to be held.
The Forum Deployed
to all the ten provinces following consultations and interaction
with all stakeholders, including political parties, electoral authorities,
representatives of civil society, media editors, Security officers
and members of the Diplomatic corps.
The teams proceeded
to observe the campaign rallies, meetings, preparations for elections,
location of polling stations, media coverage of elections, voting
and counting processes and actions that impinged on the fundamental
rights and freedoms of the citizens of Zimbabwe as enshrined in
Part III of the constitution.
The Political and Security Climate TOP
The Forum has
observed that the political and security climate in which the elections
were conducted was complex. It was characterized by high levels
of polarization and political intolerance, lack of communication
amongst stakeholders and lack of free flow of information to the
electorate, which are necessary conditions for democracy to prevail.
noticeable differences in the provinces but generally there was
no euphoria that normally characterizes elections the SADC region.
Violence and Intimidation TOP
campaign was marred by incidents of violence in all provinces of
the country. Police and party leaders have not denied the fact that
there has been violence in various forms. What seemed to be in question
was the perpetration of that violence. Violence was visited upon
ordinary voters, party supporters and leaders alike. Reports indicated
that violence was perpetrated by supporters of the two main political
parties-the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC).
Not only did
the SADC Parliamentary Forum witness some of these acts, its mission
members were themselves targets of an orchestrated attack 10 kilometres
out of Chinhoyi on 24 February.
indicated that the majority of those affected were supporters of
the MDC or those perceived to be opponents of the ruling party and
government. Violence was manifest in the number of hospitalized
victims, numerous cases of alleged torture, arson, assault and incidences
of false imprisonment.
of violence is reflected in virtually all reports from our observers
in the field, which included abduction of some polling agents of
MDC; in one such incident, our observer team intervened when Police
in Mashonaland Central detained 24 election agents of the opposition
party who were on their way to Harare to vote.
the phenomena of political intolerance and violence seem to have
been prevalent since the 2000 legislative elections. Acts of violence
appeared to be systematically employed by youth and War veterans
with camps dotted around the country.
Police Conduct TOP
In any situation
of conflict, the police were expected to be impartial. In spite
of the arrests made, there are significant claims that the police
have been partisan in handling of the political situation when called
upon to intervene. The use of riot squads to disperse potential
voters in some Harare constituencies raised questions about the
impartiality of the Police.
Voters Roll TOP
A voter’s register
is considered a basic condition for a successful election. In this
election, concerns have been raised regarding the timeous release
of the voter’s roll which was only made available three days before
the polls, leaving no time for the electorate to verify its accuracy.
As a result of this, it was observed that a large number of people
were unable to vote.
Issues of the
voter’s roll were compounded by the announcement that a supplementary
register had been prepared and would be used in the 2002 elections
contrary to earlier announcements that registration for 2002 was
Freedom to Campaign TOP
In any election,
contestants should be able to move freely among the electorate.
In this election whereas the ruling party’s campaign was relatively
uninterrupted, some of opposition party meetings were cancelled
or interrupted by opponents. It was however, significant, in two
instances in Harare and Bulawayo, rallies of opposing parties were
conducted in the same city without any violence. This should be
Polling stations TOP
to the electorate and other stakeholders on the location of polling
stations was not available to enable the electorate to make informed
decisions. Much as we appreciate the increase of polling stations
in rural areas, the reduction of the number of polling stations
in urban areas had a major impact on the elections. This was particularly
so in Harare and Chitungwiza where tripartite elections were held.
It resulted in congestion with some people spending more than 48
hours in queues because of their sheer determination to vote.
Voting and counting TOP
that in many provinces the voting was peaceful. Well over 50 percent
of the registered voters were able to cast their vote. The major
exception was the Harare Province where the voting process was excruciatingly
slow resulting in the extension of both times and days of voting.
There were also
a number of violent incidents in which the police dispersed voters
from polling stations especially in high-density suburbs. Further,
although a large number of people voted, a significant number of
the electorate was unable to vote as a result of logistical, administrative
and other impediments. The counting proceeded very well.
It was significant
to note that the recommendation from the Forum observers for the
polling agents to ride with the ballot boxes was accepted and implemented.
However, free movement of party agents was compromised by acts of
intimidation and reported abductions in some provinces.
massive turnout of voters demonstrates the commitment of the people
of Zimbabwe to multiparty democracy.
Lack of Independence of the Electoral Commission
recommendations and practices in the SADC region, Zimbabwe is one
of the countries without an Independent Electoral Commission. The
assignment of roles to three different electoral bodies, the Electoral
Supervisory Commission (ESC), the Election Directorate and the Registrar-General’s
Office affects efficiency and causes duplication. The government
should seriously consider establishing an Independent Electoral
Commission as recommended by the Forum after the 2000 legislative
elections and as held by the Norms and Standards of Elections
Access to Public Media TOP
There was lack
of access to the public media by political parties other than the
ruling party. The monopolization of the public media by the ruling
party went contrary to the guidelines set out by the Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC) for equal and equitable access to contesting parties.
The slanted coverage the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
(ZBC) and the Zimbabwe Newspapers deprived the electorate an opportunity
to make an informed choice.
of insecurity obtaining in Zimbabwe since the 2000 parliamentary
elections was such that the electoral process could not be said
to adequately comply with the Norms and Standards for Elections
in the SADC region.
It is evident
to us that elections may not, in themselves, be a panacea to Zimbabwe’s
complex situation of political conflict.
appeal to the political leadership of the country, the churches,
civil society and the business sector to join hands and begin a
healing process for Zimbabwe in the face of enormous problems. An
election should not be construed to be one of “victor” and “vanquished”.
We also urge
the Heads of State and Government of SADC countries to urgently
engage the leadership of Zimbabwe to
facilitate dialogue and reconciliation. We believe it is within
the powers of the people of Zimbabwe, through their leaders with
the support of SADC to avert a political crisis in the country and
bring about peace.
Signed for and
on Behalf of the SADC Parliamentary Forum Observer Mission,
Zimbabwe, 13 March 2002
Hon. Duke G.
Elvy Mtafu, MP
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