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Zimbabwe's 2005 parliamentary election and post-election period
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
August 02, 2005
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Zimbabwe’s ruling party, ZANU-PF was able to win the March 2005
Parliamentary Election, despite the massive economic decline under
its governance, seems to defy logic and invites an investigation
as to whether the election was fair, whether people were able to
cast their vote freely over the voting period, and whether the announced
results accurately reflected the vote.
The first issue of "fairness" was largely canvassed in
the Human Rights NGO Forum’s report on the pre-election period,
which found that the pre-election conditions were not conducive
to a free and fair election. In examining the other issues, it is
necessary to look at the electoral process and to analyze the polling
figures for any indication of rigging.
A common thread that runs through all the various pieces of legislation
that establish and regulate the electoral process in Zimbabwe, is
that those responsible for its implementation and supervision are
almost all either selected by government or subject to government
interference and influence. In the 2005 election this was manifested
by the presence in the electoral process of military personnel,
or personnel with a military background, with, in addition, a significant
influence being exerted by a partisan police force. The result was
that in many instances procedures were flouted entirely and with
impunity. When procedures were followed, they were often implemented
in a partisan or anomalous manner. This led to opportunities for
rigging the vote and a suspicious electorate.
However, an analysis of voting figures by polling station suggests
that if there was any stuffing of ballot boxes, it was not significant
enough to affect the result. More people turned out to vote for
ZANU-PF than the MDC. The reason for this is to be found in the
pre-electoral conditions. In drought prone Zimbabwe, the threat
to withhold famine relief is a powerful weapon. Rather than employing
the macro and endemic intimidation that characterized the previous
two elections, ZANU-PF intimidated at the micro level. Having increased
the power of traditional leaders by giving them influence in the
distribution of food and land and having secured their sympathies
through largesse, these leaders were deployed to ensure that villagers
voted and voted favourably.
The voter turn out in the rural areas was significantly higher than
in urban areas. This strategy was combined with a relentless campaign
to portray the opposition and its supporters as responsible for
Zimbabwe’s economic decline and as enemies of the State. The opposition
had little opportunity to counteract this. Following the election
period, the threats made prior to the election were implemented.
Food aid was withheld. People suspected of voting for the opposition
were assaulted and driven from their villages.
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