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2002 Presidential & Harare Municipal elections - Index of articles
Rights and Zimbabwe's Presidential Election: March 2002
Rights NGO Forum
July 03, 2002
From 9-11 March
2002 elections were held for Zimbabwe’s executive State Presidency.
contested this election. Robert Mugabe stood for re-election against
Morgan Tsvangirai (Movement for Democratic Change), Shakespeare
Maya (National Alliance for Good Governance), and two independents,
Wilson Kumbula and Paul Siwela, whose parties (ZANU and ZAPU) refused
to endorse their candidacies.
coverage of the election campaigns was widely condemned as biased.
Two days after he had won the count, on 15 March 2002, Robert Mugabe
signed into law the internationally-condemned Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act.
extended for a third (half-)day, was largely peaceful, despite the
dispersal of many long urban voting queues by the riot police. In
the usual pattern of trouble-free voting, a tiny fraction (0,3%)
of political violations of human rights occurred from 9-11 March.
violence in the ten weeks before polling was reflected in 53% of
the human rights violations which occurred in the first quarter
(Q1) of the year 2002. The rate of violation escalated dramatically
in the three weeks after the poll, when 46,6% of all Q1 violations
reflected massive political retaliation against those (officially
counted at some 46%) who voted for Morgan Tsvangirai.
These Q1 violations
are detailed in Table 9.1 (page 95). They were contained in nearly
700 reports covering nearly 26 000 violations of civil, social and
economic as well as political rights, including 54 deaths (listed
individually in the Appendix to this report) and nearly 1 100 death
Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates was signed
only on the day before polling. Some of its provisions, outlawing
threats of harm, provocative and intimidatory language, false or
defamatory allegations against competitors, and racial and other
discriminations, had repeatedly been abrogated by one of the candidates.
The legal aspects
of this election were especially noteworthy. Justice Rita Makarau,
in the High Court, found in favour of a franchise ‘qualified’ by
the necessity to prove a residential address, and explicitly against
‘universal suffrage’ without proof of address.
the General Laws Amendment Act after it had earlier been defeated
on its third reading. The Supreme Court voided this Act, which operated
between 4-27 February 2002, including the amendments to the Electoral
Act which had been tacked onto it at its second reading, without
publication in bill form.
used his powers under section 158 of the Electoral Act to reinstate
provisions voided by the Supreme Court. These disenfranchised two
categories of his perceived political opponents – some 5 000 ex-citizen
permanent residents with a constitutional right to vote and an estimated
million or more Zimbabweans outside the country who had previously
been entitled to postal ballots. Postal votes were restricted to
members of the uniformed services and public service on polling
appointed by Robert Mugabe both as an unelected, non-constituency
Member of Parliament and as Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs, reinstated as Electoral Regulations other provisions voided
by the Supreme Court.
Both men reinstated
these provisions within 72, some 24, hours of the start of polling.
The Public Order
and Security Act came into effect on 22 January 2002. It was repeatedly
used to prevent and disrupt the MDC’s rallies and the training and
deployment of 6 000 of its electoral and polling agents, 1 400 of
whom were unable to conduct their duties normally for the full duration
of voting. Six MDC polling agents were killed after the election.
There was an
enormous urban voter turnout, but urban polling venues (serving
mainly opposition voters) were required to process four times as
many voters as rural venues, in slightly-extended time periods.
In Harare and Chitungwiza, 15 seconds were allocated to process
each potential voter, in Bulawayo 30 seconds. Calculated on the
total votes counted, the respective times taken were 55 and 65 seconds,
even though some booths processed as few as five per hour.
against rigging failed in an unacceptably high proportion of polling
institutions. The Registrar-General refused to reveal the number
of ballot papers printed. The MDC demand that polling agents be
allowed to mark all the ballot papers to prevent electoral fraud
was refused. The numbers of postal ballots distributed were not
made public. None of the legal requirements to prevent double-voting
were applied to those who received postal ballots, including UV-inking
of voters’ fingers. Some police and army personnel complained that
they had been forced to complete their postal ballots in the presence
of their commanding officers. Known Zanu-PF activists and ‘war veterans’
manned many check-points to screen UV-inked fingers.
Over half of
all polling booths at some stage lacked opposition observers. In
four of the 120 constituencies, opposition electoral agents were
banned from verifying the counting of votes. In another five, MDC
agents were allowed to be present for only part of the time.
For votes cast
in all 120 constituencies, the figures given by the Electoral Supervisory
Commission and the Registrar-General of Elections, Tobaiwa Mudede,
differed – by between 12 and 19 141 votes. These discrepancies totalled
475 750 votes. Many results changed even after they had been verified
and announced. The total prejudice to Morgan Tsvangirai on these
post-verification changes alone was 50 729 votes.
Of 3 062 303
votes accounted for by the ESC, at least 526 479 (17,2%) were directly
problematic. These do not include voters deprived of their votes,
turned away from the polling booths, or who spoiled their papers.
Factoring in these problems yields a problem with one in every three
votes ostensibly cast.
and independent Zimbabwean observers regarded the election as failing
to meet free and fair requirements, and the outcome as illegitimate.
The Movement for Democratic Change, supported among others by the
ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and Nigerian President Obasanjo,
has demanded a new election, under international supervision.
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