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  • 2002 Presidential & Harare Municipal elections - Index of articles

  • Elections were not free and fair
    Ditshwanelo - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
    April 03, 2002

    DITSHWANELO The Botswana Centre for Human Rights is convinced that the Zimbabwean Presidential Elections held on 9-11 March 2002, were not free and fair.

    Elections are a process which include the pre-election, actual election and post-election phases. Since February 2000, there has been election-related violence, which has led to loss of life, intimidation and damage to property. As stated by the SADC Parliamentary Forum Election Observation Mission, `the climate 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'.

    From May 2000, DITSHWANELO embarked on a series of solidarity actions in support of the people of Zimbabwe. As part of these activities, DITSHWANELO facilitated meetings for civil society representatives to lobby the Government of Botswana, members of The European Union, and other relevant stakeholders.

    DITSHWANELO also held three (3) Focus Seminars at which civil society representatives shared the realities of life in Zimbabwe, as experienced by those who were considered not to be supporters of ZANU-PF.

    DITSHWANELO issued a number of press statements in order to raise the awareness of the Botswana public about the unfolding events, which culminated in the creation of a `climate of insecurity' for both the 2000 Parliamentary and 2002 Presidential elections in Zimbabwe.

    DITSHWANELO monitored the 2002 Presidential elections as a member of a Southern African NGO delegation. We observed twenty-four (24) polling stations in three (3) constituencies in the province of Mashonaland East.

    DITSHWANELO noted that all the factors necessary to facilitate a free and fair election, were absent. These included the effects of the numerous and unexpected changes to the electoral laws. These changes caused much confusion amongst both the voters and the electoral institutions. Some of the consequences of the legislative changes were: voters were turned away from polling stations because they had gone to the wrong constituency; reduction of polling stations in towns led to many being denied the opportunity to vote; the deliberate delay by the Registrar General to implement the court decision extending the voting hours to a third day in Harare and Chitungwiza; the misuse of the national Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) by ZANU-PF through its broadcasts of Chimurenga (liberation struggle) war films on the television and Chimurenga songs on the radio, during the voting period.

    The observers of the SADC Parliamentary Forum Election Observation Mission, Commonwealth Observer Mission, and Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) noted amongst other serious concerns, the effect of political violence and intimidation, particularly against MDC supporters; failure of law enforcement officers to impartially apply the law; prevention of civil society to engage in voter education; lack of independence of the Electoral Commission; the inflation of the number of rural votes; obstruction of opposition party ability to campaign; and non-timely publication of the supplementary voters' role.

    DITSHWANELO strongly recommends that:

    Meaningful dialogue aimed at addressing the continuing human rights violations be entered into between ZANU-PF, other political parties and civil society Regional institutions, such as SADC, OAU, the Commonwealth and the European Union (EU) explore the possibility of making substantial contributions toward the holding of a repeat Presidential Election before the end of 2002.

    3 April 2002

    For more information please contact:
    DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
    Private Bag 00416

    Tel: +267 306998
    Fax: +267 307778
    Visit the Sahringon fact sheet for Ditshwanelo

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