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Election Climate No. 1 - Feb 2005
Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
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Herald report on police response to report
This report covers all the reports received by the NCA for February
2005, coming from 8 Provinces, and 56 Constituencies. It summarises
the position that pertained during the last 2 weeks of February.
Unfortunately, no data had been submitted from either Manicaland
or Mashonaland West by the time of writing, but it is submitted
that the data nonetheless do give a good overview of the national
picture in February 2005.
The report does
not give all the details for each Province and the related constituencies,
but attempts to provide an overview of the election climate during
February 2005. Detailed reports on each Province have been issued
previously, and this report summarises these reports, as well as
undertaking some preliminary analysis of the trends. Those who wish
the more detailed reports should send an email to the NCA at firstname.lastname@example.org
As can be seen
from the consolidated Election Irregularity [EI] ratings [see below],
no Province during February 2005, amongst those sampled, has shown
a satisfactory election climate. Harare would seem the worst of
all Provinces to date, whilst Matabeleland North seems the best.
It is evident that the trend described above accords with the observations
of previous elections: Harare and the Mashonaland Provinces generally
have shown more frequent instances of election irregularities than
There is marked
variability within the Provinces, although most constituencies have
EI ratings that are unacceptably high. Bikita West and Hwange East
had the lowest EI ratings, and there the electoral climate can be
described as wholly conforming to the SADC Principles and Guidelines.
In all, 5 constituencies had EI ratings of 3 or lower, and this
is what might be expected of an election climate approximating the
SADC Principles and Guidelines.
Of the 10 worst
constituencies, 9 were from Mashonaland Provinces, with 7 of these
from Harare alone. The shift towards urban constituencies showing
a poorer election climate than rural constituencies marks a change
from previous elections, and suggests that the battleground for
this election is in the urban areas, where the Movement for Democratic
Change has been the stronger of the two main parties since 2000.
report that political violence is widespread, and, although actual
physical violence is reduced on previous elections, hate speech,
threats, and intimidation are widely reported. This would strongly
suggest that the psychological climate, so essential to genuine
elections and open choice, is severely lacking currently in Zimbabwe.
were reported in 40% of the constituencies sampled during February.
There was no obvious trend, and the reports indicated that bases
were equally likely to be in urban as well as rural areas. This
is something of a change from previous elections when militia bases
were generally more likely to be found in rural areas. The presence
of militia bases is extremely important in recent Zimbabwean elections
as there is a decided correlation between the presence of militia
bases and political violence and other irregularities in a constituency.
In view of the importance of militia, we undertook an analysis of
the data as it relates to militia. This analysis showed strong associations
between the presence of militia and a wide range of electoral irregularities:
the association was not merely with violence, but with interference
with basic freedoms as well.
It is also worth
noting that voter education is extremely low, only 25% of the constituencies
sampled reported voter education taking place, and, in those constituencies
where voter education has taken place, this has usually been by
the political parties. This would seem to reflect the dual effect
of the new electoral laws and disruptions due to the NGO Bill producing
a serious diminution of NGO activities compared with previous elections.
Here it must be stressed that voter education is now under the control
and direction of the Zimbabwe Election Commission, and the reports
to date suggest that it is seriously deficient in this aspect of
concerning the political use of food are also a clear cause for
concern. Nearly 72% of the constituencies sampled reported the political
use of food, with the most common report being an inability to access
food without presenting a ZanuPF party card. In the run-up to a
highly contentious election, and in the context of a manifestly
serious humanitarian crisis, reports that food is being used as
a form of treating must be immediately investigated. With a recent
report stating that about 4.8 million are in need of food, reports
of food being used as a political gambit are wholly unacceptable.
findings give enormous cause for concern, and, accordingly, we make
the following recommendations:
- There must
be immediate steps to remove all partisan forces from the existing
constituencies. This applies particularly to the war veterans
and the youth militia. Here the NCA would point out that the associations
between these groups and significant irregularities are sufficiently
serious to warrant immediate action.
- There must
be immediate steps to set in place an enforceable code of conduct
for these elections. Whilst both parties are implicated in electoral
irregularities, the balance of the evidence to date suggests that
ZanuPF is the major culprit, and the NCA would call upon the Government
to take immediate steps both to restrain its supporters and to
call for a consultation between all political parties on the setting
up of an enforceable code of conduct.
- In view of
the large number of allegations of partisan behaviour by the law
enforcement and security agencies, there must be immediate and
public action by the Government to ensure compliance the law.
The NCA calls upon the Government to ensure that all allegations
of partisan behaviour on the part of these agencies are quickly
investigated and publicly dealt with through the courts.
- The complete
absence of voter education, especially when these elections are
being run under a new dispensation, is a near-fatal flaw, and
underlines the reasons for the NCA repudiating these elections.
- The allegations
of partisan access to food are deeply disturbing, especially in
the context of a serious humanitarian crisis. The NCA calls upon
the Government to immediately take steps to ensure that no political
party has any access to the possibility of providing food relief,
and to publicly demonstrate to all that food relief is non-partisan.
It is doubtful
that the election climate described above can change much in the
coming weeks, but the NCA will withhold its judgement that the "freeness"
component of the forthcoming election has been fatally damaged.
The NCA will issue a final pre-election report immediately prior
to the poll, which will summarise the developments during March
2005, as well as the whole pre-election climate. The NCA will also
provide a final detailed and statistical report after the elections.
and read the full report
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