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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles


  • Daily Election Report - Issue 20
    The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
    August 03, 2013

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    Herald censors AU’s official findings

    Following MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Thursday declaration on the just ended harmonised elections as “null and void” and reports of widespread vote fraud, the AU’s official findings will give some hope for millions of Zimbabweans disappointed with the election result.

    The privately owned dailies have started diverting their focus from premature celebrations of Zanu-PF’s apparent victory to significant doubts of the election’s credibility raised by regional observer missions.

    Both gave details of the AU’s Aisha Abdullah explaining her team’s concerns, and especially, that “…Despite the assertions by the RGV that hard copies of the voters’ roll were availed to all political parties other than one political party, observers have found no evidence that hard copies were generally available to all who required them and who by law should have them.”

    She also noted that the roll was not made available in time for a “meaningful inspection and verification by voters, parties and candidates to take place”.

    The private dailies also reported the AU’s observation that the elections fell short of international practice. For example, by printing 8.7 million ballot papers - 35% more than the number of registered voters – the figure was “significantly higher than international best practice of (5 – 10%), and raises concerns of accountability of unused ballots”.

    NewsDay, unlike The Daily News, did not give the report on the AU findings due prominence. Instead, it gave front-page status to Jonathan Moyo losing his parliamentary seat, relegating news of the AU’s reservations to page three.

    Other “flaws” that the observer mission noted included a high number of assisted voters and a significant number of ballot booklets that had missing ballot papers and were not serially identified.

    This directly conflicted with the impression given by The Herald, which censored the AU observer team’s findings. Instead, its report “3 observer missions endorse election” focused on Obasanjo’s unofficial comments during the presentation of the AU mission’s preliminary report: “I have never seen an election that is perfect… The point has always been and will always be how much the infractions, imperfections have affected the reflection of the will of the people, and up to the point of the close of the polls our observation was that…we do not believe that those incidents will amount to the result not to reflect the will of the people.”

    The Herald’s lead story gloated about the size of the MDC-T’s electoral defeat under the headline ‘2013 total political eclipse’, which also listed the party’s “big-wigs” who had lost their parliamentary seats.

    This added to the editorialization of Membe’s comments on democracy that accompanied it on the front page. The paper said Membe (and others) spoke “…as a rampant Zanu-PF gobbled up constituencies like the early 80s video game Pacman gobbles dots”.

    The Herald also reported a group called the SADC Lawyers Association (SADCLA) endorsing the election. The paper reported the lawyers grouping describing the poll as “peaceful and a realistic expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe”.

    However, in a NewsDay report the SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC-CNGO) in its statement sharply disagrees with Obasanjo’s observation. The organization stated “the observed anomalies...themselves constitute serious electoral deficits” and concluded: “the credibility, legitimacy, free and fair conduct of the…elections and therefore, their reliability as the true expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe have been highly compromised”.

    All the three dailies reported Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede exonerating himself from having any part in the alleged rigging of elections. The Herald quoted him dismissing allegations that the voters’ roll was a mess: “There is nothing like that. The voters’ roll was not manipulated at all...” He also gave his years in office as proof of his ability to run elections “…I have been running elections in this country for a long time before the coming of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Why was I not accused of manipulation?”

    However, it only NewsDay highlighted Mudede’s evasiveness after he was asked that since they were short of time, why did they not dispatch electronic copies of the roll as this would have been faster. The paper noted that he evaded the question, “I am entitled not to answer certain questions”. When pressed the paper reports that Mudede blamed the MDC-T who he accused of trying to frustrate him by only collecting the roll late in the day.

    All the papers reported Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa telling anybody who disputed the election result to take legal action. Under its headline, ‘Zanu-PF gloats over victory’, The Daily News quoted Chinamasa saying, “If there is any ground, I tell Mr Tsvangirai to feel free to employ the best lawyers, I know the MDC has some of the best lawyers. Take your grievances to the Constitutional Court”. He also dismissed concerns about the impartiality of the court adding, “That is rubbish…we do not decide who the judges are…”

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