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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
election was not credible
August 17, 2013
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced the disputed
election results, President Jacob Zuma was quick off the mark
to applaud President Robert Mugabe and endorse the elections. He
sent his “profound congratulations to His Excellency President
Robert G Mugabe on his re-election as President of the Republic
of Zimbabwe following the successful harmonised elections held on
31 July 2013.” He further urged “all political parties
in Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the elections as election observers
reported it to be an expression of the will of the people.”
A peaceful election
day by itself is not enough to declare it free and fair. One of
the basic premises of assessing the credibility of an election is
look at the electoral process as a whole. There were many irregularities
with Zimbabwe’s electoral process.
To put things
into perspective, during South Africa’s first democratic elections
in 1994, under the leadership of Madiba, the ANC garnered only 62%
of the vote compared to Zanu-PF's supposed 68% win in Parliament
during Zimbabwe’s latest election.
The period leading
up to Zimbabwe’s elections already paved the way for a dubious
process. In October 2012, Mugabe assigned nine important Acts under
the office of the President. These Acts include the Commission of
Inquiry Act, Emergency Powers Act, Interception
of Communication Act, Presidential
Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, and the Zimbabwe National Security
Council Act. Mugabe’s excuse was that “those functions
have not been assigned to some other minister”, yet each act
allowed Mugabe to gradually usurp more power and exploit it to Zanu-PF’s
On the 13th
of June 2013, Mugabe used his Presidential powers (thereby bypassing
Parliament) to amend the Electoral
Act and unilaterally set the election date for six weeks later.
This is despite the fact that many outstanding issues in the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) were unfulfilled. Although it was
unrealistic that the entire GPA would be implemented, the purpose
of the agreement was to promote sustainable peace and development.
Thus, it required that some of the most important issues agreed
upon by the Government
of National Unity (GNU) be dealt with before Zimbabwe headed
for another election.
a special vote on the 14th and 15th of July intended for civil servants
and the security sector. Due to major delays and irregularities
on the special voting day, some observer missions and civil society
organisations described it as “chaotic”. Even before
the process commenced there was a lack of transparency about the
process. ZEC announced that 87,000 applicants were approved to participate
in the process. The full list of those approved for the process
was not made public, which rightfully provoked suspicion among civil
society and some political parties that some of the special voters
were not eligible to vote. On the eve of the actual election, it
was also unclear how to remove names of special voters from the
voters’ roll to avoid double voting.
Before the harmonized
elections, several potential voters in urban areas complained that
they struggled to register as voters. This is significant given
that the MDC-T appeals to urban voters. Some Zimbabweans that have
voted in previous elections also claim that they were surprised
to find out that they have been de-registered to vote without their
Once the proclamation
was made on the election date, the state-owned media went into full
throttle in rolling out overwhelmingly pro-Zanu-PF and anti-MDC
propaganda. State media provided Zanu-PF with mostly positive coverage
and whenever any of the MDC formations were mentioned it was generally
in a negative context. Compared to any other party, Mugabe’s
Zanu-PF received the bulk of coverage on press briefings and campaign
rallies. According to the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, most
hate speech throughout the election period in Zimbabwe can be attributed
to the state-owned media, and it is often attributed to Zanu-PF
members, including the President.
by Zanu-PF also became rife in the run-up to the elections. For
example, almost two weeks before the elections, Grace Mugabe, the
First Lady, allegedly handed out 22 tons of foodstuff in Mashonaland
Central. In a country where, according to the Zimbabwe Statistical
Office, an average person lives on $1.16 per day, the politics of
the belly remains a potent tool to influence the vote.
During the period
leading up to the elections ZEC outsourced the registration of voters,
as well as updating, inspection and custody of the voters’
roll to Registrar General (RG). Voter registration, as argued, has
been flawed but it is worth mentioning that the RG’s office
has numerous court orders against him that relates to the failure
to perform this function and allow for inspection of the voters’
roll. Furthermore, the final voters’ roll was not made public
in advance of the elections. This is despite the fact that it should
be provided to the public in electronic or hard copy within a reasonable
time. Currently, the MDC-T is reportedly claiming that there are
870,000 duplicate names on the voters roll, representing almost
one sixth of the total voters on the voters’ roll.
On polling day
there were reports that youths, some of whom seemingly did not look
18 (the official voting age), were bussed into MDC-T strongholds
where they presented fake voter registration certificates enabling
them to vote. One such youth group was caught on film in Harare
– they presumably travelled from the Honde Valley which is
located at the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, situated approximately
300 kilometres from the capital.
stations were set up at the last minute and their locations were
not published in advance. As a result, party agents and election
observers could not be deployed in time to properly monitor the
electoral process. These polling stations were often in tents with
no electricity, making it impossible to count votes under decent
ZEC own statistics, 3,480,047 Zimbabweans cast their votes during
the harmonized elections. Almost 305,000 voters were turned away
(mostly in areas considered to be MDC-T strongholds) and, despite
the country’s high literacy rates, another 206,000 received
“assistance” from election officials. This is serious
as it represents more than 15% of votes cast.
There were also
reports of stuffed ballot boxes, the extent of which remains ambiguous.
ZEC nonetheless announced some results, which were very suspicious.
In the 1980s, during Gukurahundi, almost 20,000 Ndebele were massacred
by Mugabe in Matebeleland. Yet, according to ZEC, voters in Matebeleland
overwhelmingly voted for Mugabe and Zanu-PF, which would be the
equivalent of Apartheid victims voting for Hendrik Verwoerd and
the National Party.
questionable aspect of the elections is to the credibility of the
judicial system, especially those that will be used for disputing
the process if need be. The Constitutional Court and the Electoral
Court dealt with most cases related to the elections. The former
consists of the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and seven judges
from the Supreme Court, while the latter is composed of the Chief
Justice and several judges from the High Court.
appointed numerous judges shortly before the election in anticipation
that some electoral issues will be legally challenged. He made all
the appointments without consulting his then partners in the GNU
and the Judicial Service Committee. For example, almost before the
ink was dry after signing the new Constitution at the end of May
2013, Mugabe appointed two Supreme Court judges (and by implication
judges serving on the Constitutional Court). Again on the 14th of
July, two weeks before the actual election, Mugabe appointed six
new High Court judges while one judge was elevated to the Supreme
Court of Zimbabwe. Given the circumstances in which these courts
were stacked in favour of Zanu-PF, one cannot expect them to deliver
a fair judgement.
As argued, the
electoral process as whole remains deeply flawed. Many of the above
issues are in conflict with SADC’s own guidelines on elections.
Zuma’s rush to wish Mugabe “profound congratulations”
is thus hard to come to terms with.
is an independent political analyst
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