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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles


  • The good the bad and the ugly Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections - 31 July 2013
    Election Resource Centre
    August 02, 2013

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    Introduction

    After much anticipation, Zimbabwe’s harmonized elections were finally held on 31st of July 2013. As early as 2008, when the Global Political Agreement (GPA) was signed, many looked forward to a non-violent, non-polarised, and non-partisan electoral process focused on achieving a credible result which clearly demonstrated the political will of the people. However, despite the readiness of the electoral administration on polling day, the process fell short of the envisioned goal and may even result in a less credible election as compared to the 2008 poll.

    This report seeks to present an honest assessment of the elections from different perspectives, amidst earlier calls for postponement juxtaposed against election managers’ insistence that the poll is credible.

    No election can be perfect. Both the administrative and political exercises that define elections are of can be calibrated on scale and time-sensitivity that would test even the most competent election manager. Mistakes and human errors are therefore expected. These will often either be rooted in gross incompetence or deliberate malfeasance. However, in regards to this election there are already particular aspects in the administration of the electoral processes that cast doubt on whether the elections were genuinely, credible, free and fair.

    This report aims to present facts regarding this election in a manner that allows the reader to debate and dialogue critical issues around this process. The key question to ask however, is; what makes an election good, bad or ugly? If this question is examined from the premise that an election is about choice and making informed choices based on an assessment of all options possible, a good election would be the ability to know your choices, make your choices, express those choices (through a secret ballot) and have those choices reflected in the election outcome. Ideally the election would be based on international standards for credible elections.

    Furthermore, within the Zimbabwean context, the term credibility has become historically relative that is, for many, the 31st of July 2013 election is judged in comparison to elections that have taken place in previous years. Many Zimbabweans view the just ended election as good due to the decreased instances of politically motivated violence and intimidation. Yet, the reality is that even these reduced “levels” of violence and intimidation should be entirely unacceptable and can necessitate the nullification of such an election.

    Furthermore, within the Zimbabwean context, the term credibility has become historically relative that is, for many, the 31st of July 2013 election is judged in comparison to elections that have taken place in previous years. Many Zimbabweans view the just ended election as good due to the decreased instances of politically motivated violence and intimidation. Yet, the reality is that even these reduced “levels” of violence and intimidation should be entirely unacceptable and can necessitate the nullification of such an election.

    The July 2013 elections, for many signalled a transition, and were therefore assessed by some on the basis of acceptability versus credibility. There were cases where things were arguably meant for good but in their implementation turned out to be ‘bad’. In support of the earlier assertion, whilst it was good that former aliens received the right to vote, many of them actually failed to register due to administrative failure causing much anger, frustration major disenfranchisement.

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