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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Zim elections: It's crunch time for voters
Jason Moyo, mail and Guardian (SA)
July 26, 2013
out a pile of old newspapers recently, Derrick Dube found a copy
of the Independent from March 2008. It bore a familiar front-page
headline: "Opposition reveals rigging plot".
There were others
in the pile, published on the eve of the March
2008 polls. There was the one about the voters' roll being in
"a shambles", and another carrying a charge by the opposition
that Zanu-PF was blocking voter registration in pro-opposition
is nothing new, but we still hope for the best," says Dube
(74). He lives in Kwekwe, in the Midlands province, and has voted
in every poll since 1980.
headlines are the same, and frustration remains about the pace of
reform, the absence of violence may convince even President Robert
Mugabe's foreign critics to accept the poll's outcome. So bad was
the last election that the bar for a credible vote has been set
After five years,
not much has changed. Days ahead of the July 31 vote, the opposition
is returning to similar themes: claims of shadowy plots to rig the
poll, criticism of the registrar general's administration of the
voters' roll, and warnings that the election will not be legitimate.
It is a sign
of how little work was done by the unity government towards meeting
its purpose: to calm tempers enough to institute reforms needed
to make sure the coming elections would produce an outcome accepted
voting day, the one big improvement is that there is none of the
violence that made Mugabe's re-election a farce in June 2008. As
in the first round in March 2008, the opposition has campaigned
freely in Mugabe's strongholds.
camps run by pro-Mugabe militants in the June 2008 run-off have
remained closed and Mugabe himself appears to be making a genuine
call for peace. And though the short run-up may have raised concerns
about a credible poll, it may have played a role in the absence
are tired of violence. They don't want a
repeat of 2008. People simply want a clear result one way or
another. They simply want a decisive winner," said analyst
There are growing
indications that even Western governments may accept the outcome,
even if the poll was administratively flawed.
believe that it is possible for Zim to have a peaceful, credible
election," the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce
Wharton, was quoted as saying this week. "Clearly, that's what's
needed to help move the country forward - economically, socially
and politically. We have expressed concerns about elements of the
process so far, but I think we need to be careful not to prejudge
Union has said a free poll is possible, and the European Union says
it will go by whatever position the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) takes - which will likely be positive.
A new Constitution
came with some reforms, but it appears these were not far-reaching
enough to convince Mugabe's opponents that a fair poll is possible.
for Democratic Change (MDC) wanted to postpone the poll to October,
saying this would allow more time to register voters and to clean
up the voters' roll.
But the Constitutional
Court ruled that elections must be held by July 31. A plea by the
government, at the behest of the SADC, to have the vote postponed
by two weeks was rejected by the court.
Over 20000 observers
have been accredited for the election, but the government continues
to bar observers from the EU and the US, citing sanctions that remain.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's deputy head, Joyce Kazembe, said
five observers from each embassy, including those of Western governments,
would still be allowed to observe the poll.
the number of polling stations has been increased to 9670 from the
9456 used during the referendum, and the 8998 used in the 2008 polls.
However, the Zimbabwe
Elections Support Network, the country's largest observer group,
says more are needed, especially in Harare.
In the countdown
to the vote, the MDC has escalated its charges that the poll
is being rigged. The party cites the role of Israeli company Nikuv
and the printing of significantly more ballots than the number of
registered voters as indications of a plot to steal the vote.
In a letter
to the electoral commission, the MDC said it was "concerned
about electoral fraud [by Nikuv] through manipulation of the voters'
roll, and the issuing of multiple identity cards to individuals
that would then allow them to vote twice". The company denies
Dumiso Dabengwa, who was in charge of home affairs when Nikuv got
the contract 13 years ago, told the Mail & Guardian last week
that Nikuv had been contracted "to specifically upgrade the
computers for the purposes of computerising the central registry,
birth certificates, passports and national identity documents".
They had only had a limited role in elections, he said.
The chaos in
the "special vote" for uniformed forces showed how unprepared
election officials were for the polls. Of the 63268 people who were
eligible to vote in the early polling, only 37108 voted, according
stations opened for two days but closed without a vote being cast,
as the electoral commission was unable to deliver ballots in time.
At one polling station, tempers frayed and police officers broke
windows in a hall where voting was taking place.
took the rare show of public dissent as a sign that, although Mugabe
still enjoys the patronage of senior army officers, he may not enjoy
unbridled support among the younger rank and file.
a huge worry. The commission has received just half of the $132-million
it requested, "but nothing has stopped us from moving,"
said commission official Bessie Nhandara this week.
privately that suppliers were begged to deliver materials before
payment is made, but many are reluctant to do business with the
electoral commission because there is no guarantee they will be
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