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Zimbabwe Election Watch Issue No. 12
December 04, 2007

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Executive Summary

Reportedly riled when South African President Thabo Mbeki raised allegations of continued violence against opposition supporters during their meeting in Harare late last month, President Mugabe dismissed them as the "usual accusations" made by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

However, the MDC has provided Mr Mbeki with a substantial dossier of cases of violence against its members. Other aspects of major concern highlighted by the opposition and civil society include the crushing of rallies, meetings and protest marches by riot police, and the politicisation of traditional leaders and food distribution.

According to human rights documentation in the possession of Dr Jendayi Frazer, US Assistant Secretary for State, this year is the worst to date for human rights abuses. On record are about 6 000 instances of abuse, more than 90 cases of politically motivated kidnappings and abductions, and 3 463 detailed cases of torture.

As President Mbeki flew out of Harare, 22 activists from the National Constitutional Assembly were severely tortured by state security agents and ruling party enforcers at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare.

Although the army has traditionally supported Mr Mugabe, a retired army colonel, Bernard Matongo says the regime is in denial about the violence and the only way the opposition should go for elections is if the Southern African Development Community (SADC) sends monitors six months in advance.

Harare political scientist Eldred Masungure says the new electoral laws that have been published provide a better electoral framework, but free and fair elections will only take place if President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party honour them.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition says there is an urgent need create a conducive electoral environment for all parties and to deal with issues surrounding the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which is packed with Zanu PF sympathisers.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a civic election monitoring group, notes that legislation alone cannot prevent malpractices. Their recent report cites numerous discrepancies in the registration process, as well as allegations of bribery and corrupt practices.

In a letter to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC says a recent audit shows that the voters' roll is unusable and is full of "dead and ghost voters". The party also says it cannot accept the current flawed delimitation exercise.

Despite requests to shelve the exercise until the conclusion of the current talks, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission insists it will press ahead with demarcation of constituencies.

A national survey conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute finds that most Zimbabweans eligible to vote have not received any worthwhile voter education.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project has documented 267 cases in September in which food and other forms of aid, such as the provision of seed, were carried out along political lines.

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