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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Chance of free and fair poll is remote says civil society
Bell, SW Radio Africa
July 30, 2013
View this article
on the SW Radio Africa website
With just a
few hours to go until Zimbabwe’s
crucial elections, civil society organisations and other watchdog
groups have all said that the possibility of a free and fair poll
Polling stations open
on Wednesday morning amid serious concern that once again, Zimbabwe
is facing a disputed election outcome. Reports of suspected vote
rigging are increasing, along with incidents of politically motivated
intimidation that have seen MDC-T supporters being targeted by Zanu-PF
supporters and members.
groups have also been warning that the credibility of the polls
is in doubt, for a number of reasons. The latest warning has come
from the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), which said in a pre-election
report released on Tuesday that it has noted “continued incidences
of intimidation and politically-motivated violence.”
“What has been
of more concern in the pre-election period is the nuanced, strategic
and malevolently intentional targeting of political activists and
human rights defenders in efforts to undermine and disrupt their
activities. As such, ZLHR has recorded increased instances in which
mobilisers, educators, human rights monitors and those providing
critical legal and psychosocial support services have been intentionally
sought out for intimidation, harassment and attack,” the ZLHR
The group listed a number
of other serious issues, including the ‘disgraceful’
role of the state media and the lack of reforms within key electoral
commission. The ZLHR also slammed the imposition of the election
date as ‘destabilising’ and ‘destructive’.
“ZLHR is of the
considered view that the imposition of the 31 July 2013 election
date by way of presidential decree usurped the role and function
of Parliament and the investment made by the region and continent
in the GPA. It destabilised the Inclusive Government and could easily
have had the effect of destroying the considerable efforts made
to ensure continued peace in the country on its way to fresh elections,”
the ZLHR said.
Another warning about
the Wednesday’s poll came on Tuesday from the research and
advocacy group, Good Governance Africa, which said in a statement
that the elections “will be neither free nor fair.”
The group cited “deplorable conditions for free and fair voting,”
a “rigged voters roll,” and the fact that some credible
observers have been denied access to the polls Wednesday.
been denied the change that they have demanded before, and it would
be indefensible to allow democracy to be circumvented again,”
the group said
A Zimbabwean coalition
on civil society groups on Monday also warned that the chances of
a free and fair poll are remote. According to the Civil Society
Monitoring Mechanism (CISOMM), which released its pre-election report
on Monday, Zimbabwe could be facing real danger in this election
“Despite some legal
reforms and procedural adjustments, the realities of our history,
including significant factors such as the attitudes of the incumbents
and their well-documented subversion of State power and resources
to service their partisan interests, coupled with the shockingly
limited access of people to a diversity of opinion, lead to a conclusion
that the immediate future may be fraught with danger for the Zimbabwean
people,” CISOMM said.
This warning coincided
with a report released by the International Crisis Group which on
Monday warned that the country could face extensive violence and
a return to a ‘protracted political crisis’. These warnings
were contained in the Group’s latest report on the elections
titled: ‘Mugabe’s last stand’. It said the country
is ‘inadequately prepared’ for the polls on Wednesday
and the conditions for a free and fair poll do not exist.
the process and institutions is low. The voters’ roll is a
shambles, security forces unreformed and the media grossly imbalanced.
The electoral commission is under-funded and lacked time to prepare.
Concerns about rigging are pervasive, strongly disputed results
highly likely,” the report states.
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