Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) statement on harmonized election
of 31 July 2013
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
August 06, 14, 2013
Since the disputed
elections of 2008, Zimbabwe has been run by a Government
of National Unity (GNU) following a disputed election whose
mandate ranged from sorting out the economic messy as well as to
prepare the country for a credible election, an undisputed free
From the beginning,
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) believed that the full
implementation of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) was the key to holding free and fair
elections. The GPA provided key issues that needed to implemented
that included national healing and reconciliation; observance of
the rule of law; freedom of expression, communication, assembly
and association; free political activity, the role of traditional
leaders and the reform of the security sector. In other words, the
GPA set minimum conditions for holding a credible election.
Over the years
Zimbabwe has failed to deliver a free and fair election. The election
process has to meet minimum standards for it to be credible. These
include international instruments such as:
a. The United
Nations Universal Declaration of Rights:
b. The International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):
c. The African
Charter on Human and Peoples Rights emphasizes on the right
d. The SADC
Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections
The ZCTU made
it clear from the beginning that it will not accept a flawed election.
Free, fair and transparent elections are a necessary prerequisite
for democracy. A flawed election can cause political instability.
ZCTU together with the Zimbabwe
Elections Support Network deployed over 1000 election monitors,
it also has been observing the political environment before, during
and after elections and this forms the basis of its opinion.
are the observations by the ZCTU on the 2013
Draconian laws such as POSA
remained in place going into an election despite the fact that the
GPA provided for the reform of these laws. These laws curtail the
people’s right to freedom of assembly, information and association
For the first time in many years, the elections were done in a peaceful
environment. Zimbabweans must be commended for their zero tolerance
to violence in this election. However, there were negligible reports
of intra and inter-party violence.
c. Freedom to
Political parties were able to campaign freely although under stringent
laws like POSA and AIPPA. In some areas voters shunned rallies of
other political parties for fear of reprisals and this shows that
there could have been tacit intimidation going on.
No credible elections can take place with a voters’ roll in
tatters. In fact an inaccurate voters’ roll is a source of
rigging elections. The ZCTU notes with concern that the voters’
roll used in the elections was inaccurate and distorted. There were
reports of duplicate entries, voters enrolled in wrong constituencies
and wards, eligible voters being left off, and, dead persons. The
voters’ roll was not made available to polling agents, observers
and political parties in time as stipulated by law.
e. Voter registration:
The process should have been moved with speed and transparency.
There are reports of people who were frustrated whenever they want
to register. Ideally, voter registration should have be removed
from the Registrar-General’s Office and taken over by the
ZEC. The ZCTU however, doubts the impartiality of ZEC officials.
f. Voter information
and voter education:
The public has the right to all information on the voting process.
This includes registration and place of voting. Civic organizations
must be allowed to circulate information to the public to help members
of the public to make informed decisions. Ideally, all material
must be printed in all official local languages. Although there
was an attempt to do some form of voter education, this was very
limited and the educators were not visible at all. This could explain
the reasons why there was high number of people who were turned
away due to lack of information.
g. Ballot papers:
To avoid speculation of cheating, ZEC should have printed ballot
papers equivalent to registered voters and to disclose other such
information, for example the number of ballot boxes issued to each
h. The voting
The ZCTU received with concern that a number of issues that put
to question the voting process:
- A number
of voters were turned away for various reasons and this means
many people were disenfranchised (ZESN estimates 750 000 voters).
- It was frightening
that Presiding officers resorted to phoning the Command Centres
(e.g in Epworth) to confirm the name of voters. This was open
to abuse by presiding officers
- The arrests
of people with fake voter registration slips means that there
is a possibility of thousands of fake voters having voted throughout
the country and this puts the credibility of elections into question.
- There were
also reports of high numbers of assisted voters and this raises
suspicion of intimidation.
- Village heads
were reported to be leading voters in their areas, a clear intimidation
i. The media
The mass media have an important role to play, to a greater extent,
in between election periods, in the run-up to the election and during
the election itself. Media in Zimbabwe have been largely polarised
over the last 15 years.
The media in
Zimbabwe is governed by a number of laws namely;
a section on the media, the GPA also gave fruition to the Zimbabwe
Media Commission (ZMC) and under the Constitution of Zimbabwe, one
of the major functions of the media is “to ensure that the
people of Zimbabwe have equitable and wide access to information”.
In the period
preceding the 2013 harmonized elections, the state-controlled media
largely devoted most of their time and space to openly campaigning
for Zanu-PF. In the state media’s quest to campaign for Zanu-PF
they had to employ the dirty tactic of name calling, hate language
and character assassination of mainly the Movement for Democratic
Change party and senior officials. A research done by the Media
Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) states that ‘hate
language is endemic to the Zimbabwean mainstream media particularly
the state controlled arm of the media.’
The issue of
hate language in state controlled media largely went unpunished
despite having a legal framework in place to curtail such acts.
Section 61 subsection 5(a-d) of the new Zimbabwe Constitution
to violence; advocacy of hatred or hate speech, or malicious injury
to a person’s reputation or dignity; or malicious or unwarranted
breach of a person’s right to privacy.’
Even the Criminal
Law (Codification Reform) Act outlaws ‘criminal insult’
where any person by words or conduct ‘seriously impairs the
dignity of another person.’
in the month of June the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
says several cases
in which inflammatory, offensive and intimidating language was used.
A total of 26 counts of such hate speech were recorded. The Herald
recorded most counts of messages of hatred and intolerance, 10 (38%),
followed by the Daily News with three (12%). The Daily News’
figure represented a 57% decrease from last month’s seven
and NewsDay did not record any cases. The national television station,
ZTV recorded nine (35%) counts of hate language. One stemmed from
a news report and the rest from its current affairs programmes,
African Pride, which was aired on June 20th at 6. 30pm. Preachers
of the language of hatred recorded in June 2013 mostly comprised
influential people in society.
from politicians, state actors, journalists and media columnists,
to political analysts. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his
MDC party were the most targeted group in the government media.
These media directed hate speech at Tsvangirai and his party 12
times. Ten (83%) of the 12 counts were churned out through the government
press, while the remaining two were broadcast on ZTV.
In essence there
was no equal access to electronic media as Zanu-PF got most of positive
coverage. Even in instances where the MDC offered to pay for airtime
in the form of advertisements, these advertisements never saw the
light of day. The electorate had to contend with biased unbalanced
One of the contentious
issues that the MDC was pushing before the elections, was that of
reform of the media. The parties to the GPA had agreed this was
essential before the country could hold a free, fair and credible
election. Just like the state sector reforms, media reforms were
resisted by Zanu-PF hence the country went for this landmark election
without the reforms.
j. The security
The security forces must be as impartial as possible. Members of
the security forces must stay away from political parties’
campaign and must desist from uttering words that may be deemed
to intimidate or supportive of other political parties. In fact
such officers must be summarily be dismissed and disciplinary action
taken against them.
While the ZCTU
commends Zimbabweans for a peaceful plebiscite, that alone cannot
be used to judge the freeness and fairness of an election. Among
other shortcomings earlier mentioned (including the failure to implement
provisions of the GPA), the use of voting slips that could be abused
as well as the non availability of the voters’ roll until
the eve of an election points to a sinister motive by those running
the elections. The ZCTU believes that the elections were stage-managed
and Zimbabweans were taken on a garden path.
On the basis
of the above assessment, the ZCTU therefore concludes that the 2013
elections, besides lacking credibility, were neither free nor fair.
Visit the ZCTU
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.