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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Traditional leaders and police assist voters in rural areas
    Tererai Karimakwenda, SW Radio Africa
    July 31, 2013

    View this article on the SW Radio Africa website

    Voters in many rural areas of Zimbabwe were told by traditional leaders and police to pretend they did not know how to vote on election day, according to a local observer group that deployed teams to monitor polling stations around the country.

    The Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) reported that large numbers of voters, especially in rural areas like Chegutu and Murehwa, asked to be assisted to vote by officials on Wednesday.

    CCDZ director Phillip Pasirayi said voting proceeded peacefully in most areas, but there were some “very worrying” incidents that marred the day and could very well affect the outcome of the election.

    “Firstly there is the issue of assisted voters, particularly in the rural areas and the farming communities. There is a trend that we are seeing of assisted voters, who turn up saying that they do not know how to vote. And they are being assisted by election officials.

    Pasirayi said this was worrying because officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) were hired by Zanu-PF and support Robert Mugabe. In addition Pasirayi strongly criticized the police for violating electoral laws by operating inside polling stations. CCDZ observers reported that policemen were seen operating inside many polling stations, and allegedly interfering with the voters.

    “The law says that police officers are not supposed to be inside polling stations. But we are getting it from our observers that in the majority of stations where they visited, the polling officers are interfering with the voting process. They were seen organizing queues and issuing instructions,” Pasirayi explained.

    The CCDZ director said they were also very concerned by reports about Zanu-PF bases and camps that had been set up in some constituencies, particularly in Chegutu and Murehwa.

    He said: “We hear that there are camps that have been set up whereby names of people are being recorded, whereby people are being asked how they voted. So this is very worrying.”

    The reports from the CCDZ confirm what many residents in rural areas have told SW Radio Africa over the last few months. It had been alleged that traditional chiefs and sabhukus were threatening villagers in their wards, saying they would be evicted or punished in some way if they voted for the MDC-T.

    “The absence of overt violence does not mean that there is a credible election,” Pasirayi added, saying there was “a margin of terror” in the results from the 2008 election due to violence. But “a margin error” applies to this election due to the rigging strategies being used by ZEC.

    SW Radio Africa is Zimbabwe's Independent Voice and broadcasts on Short Wave 4880 KHz in the 60m band.

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