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  • Index of results, reports, press stmts and articles on March 31 2005 General Election - post Mar 30

  • Election campaigning during the 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections
    Selby Matloga and Maureen Moloi, Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA)
    Extracted from Election Talk No. 20
    May 10, 2005

    There were five political parties that took part in the elections - Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe People's Democratic Party
    (ZPDP), Zimbabwe African National Union-Ndonga (Zanu- Ndonga) and Zimbabwe Youth Alliance (ZIYA) and 17 independent candidates. They were contesting for 120 of the 150 seats in the National Assembly."1

    This paper covers the campaign process during the 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections. These elections in Zimbabwe were aimed at offsetting controversies that occurred in the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential elections. Notwithstanding, as campaign issues are not legislated in the Zimbabwe Electoral Act, it was the SADC Principles that provided the basis in creating a peaceful process.2 The SADC Principles and Guidelines give clear guidelines on how campaigning in any SADC country should be conducted. They clearly articulate that "there should be freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, political tolerance, voter education and equal access to media."3 This article seeks to examine whether the campaign in the recent parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe conformed to these regional guidelines.

    Issues on which both ZANU-PF and MDC Campaigned President Robert Mugabe officially launched ZANU-PF's election campaign under the "Anti-Blair" slogan at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) on 11 February 2005. The MDC launched its campaign, based on economic issues, on 20 February in the Masvingo's Mucheke stadium. The MDC slogan "New Zimbabwe with jobs and food"4 was intended as a reaction to the economic crisis that is currently prevailing in Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF's anti-imperialist rhetoric was intended to discredit the MDC as a puppet of western powers. ZANU-PF banners were clear in this regard: "2005 election - time to bury Blair and his puppets, MDC; 2005 anti Blair election - Blair keep your England, I'll keep my Zimbabwe; and Zimbabwe will never be a colony again"5 .The MDC instead promised to restore macro-economic stability and provision of free basic socio-economic services, such as education and health.6 On the land issue, both parties pledged extensive reforms, ZANU-PF promised agricultural support mechanisms and long term financial assistance.7 Similarly, MDC promised the "recovery of the agriculture sector" and promotion of security of tenure in order to improve the viability of farming to stimulate investment and boost production.8 Both ZANU-PF and the MDC campaigned extensively, in a violence-free environment. However a level of mistrust and suspicion between the two parties was ever present.

    Constraints and Obstacles to an Easy Campaign

    Legislation during campaign
    The 2005 election campaign was free from the intimidation, coercion and political violence that characterised prior elections in Zimbabwe.9 The level of political tolerance was heightened by an appeal by the two leaders - President Robert Mugabe of the ZANU PF and Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC - to their supporters to stay clear from violence or else face the wrath of the law.10 However there were still incidents of intimidation that occurred, especially in the rural areas with chiefs and police 'harassing and barring' oppositions' party's candidates and supporters from freely campaigning.11 In addition, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) in force during the election, deprived opposition parties and independents from holding meetings without prior police clearance. POSA regulates that if more than five individuals intend holding a meeting, they must apply for a written authorisation from police four days in advance.12

    Political funding and election campaign
    An effective election campaign requires sufficient funds. In Zimbabwe the law, Political Parties (Finance) Act stipulates that political parties with at least five percent of total votes from the most recent election qualify for state funding. This meant that only ZANU-PF and MDC parties obtained funding during the 2005 parliamentary elections.

    ZANU-PF received Zim$3.5 billion ($578,608) and the MDC, Zim $3 billion ($495,949) for their campaigns.13 Small Zimbabwean parties and independents complained that 'unfair legislation' froze them out of the elections by denying them access to government funding for political campaigns. Other smaller parties such as the Democratic Party (DP), ZAPU a former liberation movement; the National Alliance for Good Governance (NAGG); and the Multi-racial Christian Democrats failed to register due to critical shortage of money to finance their campaign.14

    Media and election campaign
    The importance of the media in the election campaign is to link parties to citizens and educate voters to make informed choices. In terms of access to the media and contrary to what was witnessed in the 2002 election, the public media devoted a great deal of time to the opposition.15 However, the MDC viewed the electoral "playing field", especially the access to the media as still "not level." 16 Indeed, while opposition parties were allowed access to the state broadcast for the first time during an election, the media coverage was extensively biased in favour of ZANU-PF. The National Public Broadcasting Corporation, (ZBH) failed to provide "balanced, fair, complete and accurate" coverage during campaigns - 85% airtime focused on ZANU-PF, whereas only 15% was allocated to the MDC.17

    Use of state resources during campaigning
    Equally important during the 2005 elections was the use of state resources. There are reports that , ZANU-PF was involved in vote buying gimmicks including giving food (maize meal) to its "supporters" and donation of computers to schools "that did not even have reading material".18 President Mugabe used Air force helicopters as transport during campaign and this was clear violation of electoral laws which forbid competing parties from using government resources during campaign without reimbursement.19

    The 2005 elections went well in a relatively peaceful environment. No major incidents of intimidation and violence were reported. This contributed to a remarkable improvement in the electoral processes in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe however, still needs much improvement in certain areas of its electoral process. These include the abandoning of draconian laws such as POSA and AIPPA which severely limit freedom of association and political tolerance during election campaign, monitoring of the use of state resource which will require that Zimbabwe puts in place a truly independent Electoral Commission, and an impartial public media. However, from a regional perspective, Zimbabwe election was a landmark since it was organised within the framework of the SADC Principles and Guidelines which were confirmed in Mauritius during 2004.20

    1. This paper will focus mainly on the two major political parties, the MDC which is the main opposition and ZANU-PF, the ruling party. From time to time we will raise issues relating to other smaller parties and independents.
    2. Sokwanele, "Zimbabwe Electoral Legislation: Checklist against the SADC Principles Governing Democratic Elections".
    3. Preamble to SADC Principles and Guidelines.
    4. Ncube, N. Anti Blair vs. Better Zimbabwe; 17 February 2004:
    5. Banda, C. "Mugabe Sets for Ugly Campaign". Institute for War and Peace, Africa Reports: Zimbabwe Elections No 6, 12 February 2005
    6. Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Report on the Zimbabwe's 2005 GeneralElections Final Copy April 2005
    7. Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Report on the Zimbabwe's 2005 GeneralElections, Final Copy April 2005
    8. Sifelani Tsiko & Caesar Zvayi. Manifestos show policy congruence; 23 February 2005
    9. Not a Level Playing Field: Zimbabwe's Parliamentary Elections in 2005, Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, 21 March 2005
    10. Caiphas Chimhete, Violence: Zanu PF's poll trump card, The Zimbabwe Situation, 21 March 2005

    11.Op cit, 21 March 2005. p15
    12.Ibid, p. 31
    13. Zimbabwe Smaller Parties hamstrung by lack of Funds, in IRIN,, 24 February 2005
    14. Ibid, 24 February 2005
    15. EISA election Update 2005 Zimbabwe Number 2 31 March 2005
    16. Ibid, 21 March 2005
    17. Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Report on the Zimbabwe's 2005 General Elections" Final Copy April 2005
    18. Ibid, 21 March 2005
    19. EISA election Update 2005 Zimbabwe Number 2 31 March 2005.p 7
    20. Op-cit, ZESN April 2005

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