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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Preliminary statement - 2013 Harmonised Elections
    Zimbabwe Election Support Network
    August 01, 2013

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    The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) as part of its comprehensive effort to observe the 2013 Harmonised elections deployed over 7,000 observers to every province and constituency in the country. Generally the environment was relatively calm and peaceful. Based on the empirical reports from our observers, regardless of the outcome, the credibility of the 2013 Harmonised Elections is seriously compromised by a systematic effort to disenfranchise an estimated million voters.

    Before Election Day the voter registration process was systematically biased against urban voters. The voters’ roll of 19 June as provided by the Office of the Registrar General clearly showed that urban voters had systematically been denied the opportunity to register to vote. A total of 99.97% of rural voters were registered while only 67.94% of urban voters were registered (see table 1).

    Over 750,000 urban voters were missing on the voters’ roll compared to rural voters. In contravention of the law, the final voters’ roll was not made available in electronic format prior to Election Day. Thus there is no way to assess any bi as on the final voters’ roll.

    On Election Day urban voters were further systematically disenfranchised. At 82% of urban polling stations many potential voters were turned away and not permitted to vote for reasons which include names not appearing on the voters’ roll and turning up at the wrong ward for voting. This is in sharp contrast to rural areas where only 38% of polling stations turned away many potential voters. This served to disenfranchise thousands more of urban voters on Election Day.

    These factors on their own fundamentally undermine the degree to which the results of the 2013 Harmonised election can be considered to reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.

    When compounded by the massive bias in the state media, the campaign of intimidation in rural areas, the lack of meaningful voter education, the rushed electoral process and the harassment of civil society leaving the credibility of these elections severely compromised. ZESN calls on the African Union, the Southern African Development Community to be objective in their evaluation of these elections and take into cognisance the pre-election issues that have a bearing on the ability of citizens to genuinely choose their government.

    We reiterate that, it is not sufficient for elections to be peaceful. For elections to be credible they must offer all eligible citizens a reasonable opportunity to register to vote; to inform themselves about the candidates; to vote on election day and for their votes to be properly counted. We are deeply concerned that for urban voters the first three principles have already been violated.

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