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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Zimbabwe's elections may be peaceful - but fair
July 30, 2013
society has reported isolated cases of intimidation and violence,
particularly in rural areas, the general consensus is that Zimbabwe’s
general elections, to be held tomorrow, on 31 July, will take
place in relative peace.
will probably be the most peaceful elections in Zimbabwe in decades...
In spite of reported cases of intimidation by political activists
in some parts of the country, the environment leading to the elections
has been violence-free,” Eldred Masunungure, a political science
lecturer at the University
of Zimbabwe, told IRIN.
There was widespread
in the last election, in 2008, which the opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), claimed resulted in more than
400 deaths. MDC alleges thousands of its supporters were maimed
or displaced from their homes when militias linked to the ruling
party, Zanu-PF, attacked and tortured them. Previous elections were
also marked by politically motivated violence against President
Robert Mugabe’s opponents, with reports that the police and
army also participated in the persecution.
There have been no reports
of widespread violence during this campaign period, with political
parties sometimes holding rallies in the same areas in peace and
pasting their posters side-by-side.
But the run-up to the
elections has been marred by irregularities such as the absence
of the voters’ roll and allegations of vote rigging. Last
week, MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai raised concerns
over the "shambolic" manner in which the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission is handling the electoral processes, and warned that
the election would not be free and fair.
optimism for the polls
Observer missions have
welcomed the peace prevailing in the country. The African Union
(AU) election observer mission, in a recent pre-election statement,
said the conditions showed a significant improvement from the 2008
“The mission commends
all political contestants and stakeholders for contributing to the
present temperate political climate, a marked improvement to the
conditions that preceded the 2008 harmonized elections,” said
the AU in the statement.
During a recent media
conference in Harare, the capital, AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
reported that all political parties had expressed satisfaction with
the current conditions. “Generally, all of them [parties]
are happy that everything has been peaceful up to now, and it is
our hope that the environment will obtain up to the end of the polling
process. Peace is critical so that Zimbabweans can freely cast their
votes,” she said.
Sindiso Ngwenya, secretary-general
of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), said
he was confident that the elections would be held peacefully. The
bloc recently launched its observer mission.
think we should be worried too much. We are confident there will
be peace,” said Ngwenya.
But Nixon Nyikadzino,
the programmes manager at the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition - a coalition of hundreds of civil society
organizations - warned that the peace might be short-lived if President
sector that backs President Mugabe might step in and lead organized
violence if there are signs that their favourite candidate is losing.
This is what happened in the March
2008 elections, which were held under a relatively calm atmosphere.
However, when (MDC leader Morgan) Tsvangirai won, there was a lot
of violence. Mugabe has been calling for peace because he seems
confident of winning,” Nyikadzino told IRIN.
He noted that Mugabe
appeared to be steadily moving away from his calls for peace during
campaign rallies. At a political gathering in Bulawayo, the president
warned that there would be war if Zimbabwe was recolonized. He has
accused Tsvangirai and the MDC of being fronts of the West, which
he says is planning to topple him.
“This country is
so precious, and it should be closely guarded so that it does not
fall into the hands of people working with imperialists. People
shed their blood for it. The blood will continue to be shed if we
realize we are losing the country,” said Mugabe.
Zimbabwe Trust (HZT), an NGO working to promote peace that has
been giving regular updates on the country’s political environment,
has found that unreported harassment has been taking place in some
rural areas, particularly in Mashonaland Central and East, Midlands
and Masvingo provinces.
The organization has
reported cases of soldiers assaulting MDC supporters, death threats
being issued against teachers, villagers being forced to attend
Zanu-PF rallies and even abductions of political opponents.
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