Back to Index, Back to Special Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
2002 Presidential & Harare Municipal elections - Index of articles
report on the Presidential Election in Zimbabwe 2002
Text File (RTF) version - (133KB) can be opened by most word
Word 6/97 version - (96KB)
PDF version - (46KB)
If you do not have the free Acrobat reader
on your computer, download it from the Adobe website by clicking
Norwegian Government was invited by the President of the Republic
of Zimbabwe to send observers to the Presidential Elections 2002.
Norwegian observers were deployed in the country from 12 February,
with most observers arriving on 25 February to 17 March.
Mission regrets that the conditions for a much broader observation
of the elections were not in place.
Mission concludes that the Presidential Elections failed to meet
key, broadly accepted criteria for elections.
Elections in Zimbabwe in March 2002 were conducted in an environment
of strong polarisation, political violence and an election administration
with severe shortcomings. Despite that, voters on election days
turned out to vote in large numbers, showing an extraordinary sense
of civic duty.
The run-up to
the election was marred by a pattern of intimidation and violence.
Even though incidents have been reported from both sides, the evidence
shows clearly that in the vast majority of cases the ruling party
has been to blame. Numerous reports of harassment and assault of
opposition officials, members and supporters and their homes have
been documented by observers. Opposition offices have also been
attacked in several places.
the state media, which should have a particular duty to be politically
unbiased, has shown a blatant bias for the ruling party, with little
or no coverage of the opposition except to portray it negatively.
The Public Order
and Security Act has been used to obstruct regular political activities
involving the opposition. Meetings have been interrupted, party
representatives have been taken in for questioning during deployment
to their polling stations, party offices have been raided, and opposition
officials and supporters have been detained on spurious charges.
days, the capacity of polling stations in Harare was wholly inadequate.
Despite advance warnings, the Registrar General decided to carry
out elections with as many as 5,300 voters per polling station on
average in Harare and Chitungwiza. In all other provinces, excepting
Bulawayo, the number was around 1,000 per polling station.
On the first
election day voters in Harare and Chitungwiza turned out in extremely
high numbers. In the morning of the first day of polls up to 4,000
voters had queued up to vote. After three days of voting only 2,000
to 3,500 voters per polling station had been able to cast their
votes. Despite a clear requirement in the Electoral Act to allow
all voters in line at the close of the polls to vote, the Registrar
General decided to close all polling stations at around 10 pm on
day two and at 7 pm on the extended third day of voting. The thousands
of voters still in line both days were sent away by the police.
Many of the voters who were turned away had been waiting for ten
to twenty hours in vain. Inexplicably, the polling did not start
until 11 am on the third day, despite polling material and staff
being present from the morning onwards at all polling stations visited
by our teams. The irregular closure of the polling stations on the
second and third days together with the late opening on the third
day removed the last chance to offer all voters a fair chance to
cast their vote within a reasonable time.
In the areas
outside of Harare the voting was carried out in an efficient manner.
However, a number of incidents of intimidation were reported, including
harassment of polling agents and domestic observers, resulting in
an atmosphere of fear surrounding the electoral process. Inside
the polling stations visited by our observers, the technical part
of the process was handled in an orderly manner, and staff at the
polling stations showed a high degree of commitment to achieving
a correct voting process.
After the count,
one can clearly conclude that the violations were on such a scale
that it could have affected the outcome of the elections. That the
turnout in some provinces rose drastically compared to previous
elections, must at least in part be attributed to the high level
of intimidation of voters reported in these areas prior to and during
the poll. In Harare where the opposition draws its strongest support,
voters were not given a fair chance to cast their ballot.
In the immediate
aftermath of the poll, a number of highly disturbing developments
were noted. It quickly emerged that ZANU PF supporters around the
country had embarked on systematic reprisals against opposition
members or supporters. In particular, opposition polling and election
agents were targeted by violent youths and war veterans reportedly
using the list of polling agents published in national newspapers
before the election. Numerous cases of assault, beating, torture,
looting, arson, and at least one killing of a suspected MDC supporter
were reported to observers in the first few days after the poll.
There were also reports of violent attacks on commercial farmers
and farm workers. Given the time constraints, only a few of the
reported incidents could be independently verified before the observers'
departure, but both the consistency of the reports and the threatening
rhetoric used by ZANU PF officials during the party's pre-election
house-to-house campaign lend credibility to the claims by the opposition,
the independent media and civil society groups of systematic reprisals.
in the immediate wake of the poll also gave cause for alarm. While
in a few cases action appears to have been taken against perpetrators
of post-election violence, in the majority of reported incidents
those carrying out the reprisals have been able to operate with
administration in Zimbabwe, both the bodies administering the elections
and those supervising them, form part of the executive structure,
lacking convincing independence and integrity. The contesting parties’
only involvement is via their polling and election agents. Polling
agents for the opposition were in a number of instances harassed
or intimidated by supporters of the ruling party or the police.
Being the vital instrument for keeping the checks and balances in
place in the polling stations, this represents a weakening of the
trust in the voting process. Despite the reported incidents, the
main opposition party seemed to have been able to achieve a fairly
good coverage of polling agents in the polling stations around the
of domestic observers in substantial numbers could have enhanced
transparency and confidence in the voting process. However, the
Minister of Justice chose to exclude most of the 12,500 observers
organised by the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network from observing
the elections, thereby missing the opportunity to prove its commitment
to a fully transparent process.
The voter registration
process had serious flaws in that the cut-off dates for making amendments
to the registers were changed without prior public announcements.
The extension of registration from 27 January to 3 March was only
known to the public on 3 March.
information about the voting, such as the number and location of
polling stations, the number of registered voters per constituency,
the number of approved postal voters, and the number of late registrants
on supplementary voters rolls were published very late, or not at
all. The voters rolls have not been available for purchase by the
public as required by law.
For the report
in full, please use one of the downloads listed at the top
of this page
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.