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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Report on the local authority run–off elections
September 13, 2013
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Resource Centre (ERC), an independent electoral institution fully
registered in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe and has been
working around elections since 2010, received accreditation to observe
the September 11th 2013, run-off ward elections in 3 wards found
in Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Matebeleland North. This follows
the ERC’s successful application and observation of the July
31st 2013, harmonised election together with the Constitutional
Referendum of March 2013. Run-off elections are provided for
in Section 129 of the Electoral Act.
elections were held in Ward 30, Mutasa Rural District Council (RDC)
and Ward 5, Kusile RDC both rural and Ward 4, Kadoma Municipality
which is wholly urban. The two rural wards are largely peasantry,
whilst the urban ward, consists of a mixed group of both formally
and informally employed residents. The rural wards have a direct
interface with traditional leadership.
It should be
noted that the run-off elections arose as a result of the major
political parties getting exactly the same number of votes during
the disputed 31st July 2013 election. In previous years, including
in the 2008 election, the official response to candidates getting
the same number of votes was addressed through the tossing of a
coin to determine the winner. The conduct of run-off by elections
forwards was introduced through Statutory Instrument 85 of 2013
which repealed the previous section 129 of the Electoral
Act. A similar process will happen in the election of mayor
in towns (Kwekwe, Rusape and Plumtree) in which political parties
have the same number of elected councillors. In Kariba in 2008,
one of 10 wards recorded a tie in the number of votes garnered by
the major contenders resulting in the election being concluded by
the drawing of lots. The conduct of run off elections is relatively
new in Zimbabwe’s electoral history with the first one ever,
being the June 2008 Presidential attempt.
During the run-off
elections, the ERC was able to deploy mobile teams to cover the
9 polling stations that had been set up while also heavily depending
on civic activists drawn from partnering organisations to share
information around the election via SMS, Facebook, Twitter and an
information sharing platform that was set up on the ERC website.
While the ERC
deployed 3 mobile teams on polling day, pre-election observation
of the same election had been on going through community members
who voluntarily shared information on related pre-election activities
such as voter education and campaigning. For the purposes of the
3 run-off elections, there was no fresh registration of voters that
was undertaken since the electoral law insists on the use of the
same voters’ roll as the one used on the 31st of July 2013.
It is also essential
to note that the ward run-off elections of September 2013 were also
of particular importance to Zimbabwe’s political history as
they marked the first election since the contested July 31st poll
and from a technical and political view point, they presented an
opportunity to assess the capacity of Zimbabweans to engage in a
political contest, albeit at a very small scale, given the volatility
of the political environment as the previous election stood contested.
The poll further provided an opportunity to assess the capacity
of the election management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
to respond to challenges noted by observers, both domestic and international
as well as political parties on the July 31st 2013 election.
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