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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Report regarding breaches of the Electoral Act and the Constitution in Bulawayo East Constituency
    David Coltart, Movement for Democratic Change (Ncube)
    August 09, 2013

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    The recent Zimbabwe election conducted on the 31st July 2013 was fraught with very serious breaches of Zimbabwe's Electoral Act and Constitution. This report focuses on the general breaches, which affected the entire election but also deals with particular breaches which occurred specifically within the Bulawayo East Constituency.

    This report has been compiled by the David Coltart Campaign team with the assistance of over 90 election agents who observed the election on behalf of David Coltart and the MDC on the 31st July 2013. These agents had been trained beforehand and comprised a wide range of citizens including chartered accountants, teachers, human rights and political activists, university lecturers and other professionals.

    Pre election

    1. Illegal proclamation of the Election itself

    President Mugabe's proclamation of the election date was in breach of section 31H of the previous Lancaster House Constitution (which provision was still in force at the time the proclamation was made) in that he did not consult Cabinet before making the declaration as he was obliged to.

    2. Illegal use of the Presidential Powers Act and regulations to promulgate amendments to the Electoral Act

    On the 13th June President Mugabe purported to amend the Electoral Act by means of three Electoral Amendment Regulations (Statutory Instruments 87, 88 and 89 of 2013) he made in terms of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act. In doing so he was in breach of Section 157(1) of the Constitution and Section 4(2)(c) of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act itself which both specifically state that the Electoral law cannot be made by regulations promulgated in terms of the Presidential Powers Act and must be made by a specific Act of Parliament.

    3. Breach of Section 6(3) of the 6th Schedule as read with section 155(2)(a) of the Constitution

    Section 6(3) of the 6th Schedule of the Constitution states that "the Registrar General, under the supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, must conduct a special and intensive voter registration and a voters roll inspection exercise for at least 30 days after the publication day". This provision was very seriously breached by the Registrar General of Voters in the Bulawayo East Constituency and elsewhere in the country. For example in Ward 4 of the Bulawayo East Constituency the exercise only started on the 2nd July after the nomination court had already sat and then when it started there was initially only one registration centre located at Lochview School which is located on the outskirts of the Constituency and far from the main population centres of the Constituency. This made it very difficult for the residents of Bulawayo East, especially young and poor people, to register. This matter was raised with the Minister responsible for the Registrar General's office Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa repeatedly and with the ZEC itself.

    There was a similar policy adopted countrywide in most urban centres. The Registrar General located insufficient numbers of registration centres in urban areas, they were often located at remote sites (such as Lochview School) and processing of applications was extraordinarily slow. This has resulted countrywide in tens, if not hundreds, of of thousands of citizens effectively being disenfranchised because they were not given an opportunity to register. Serious anomalies have resulted with for example some rural provinces such as Mashonaland West (in the past a Zanu PF stronghold) registering almost 3 times the numbers of new voters than Harare the capital (an MDC T stronghold). The Constitutional provision is clear - it was to be "intensive" and was to last "30 days" and the exercise, certainly in Ward 4 of the Bulawayo East Constituency, was neither intensive, nor lasted 30 days in every Ward.

    An analysis of the voters roll prepared prior to the intensive voter registration exercise done by the Research and Advocacy Unit is revealing in this regard. This analysis is based on several data sets:

    1. 2012 Census (ZimStat, 2012)
    2. 2008 Voters Roll
    3. 2013 Voters Roll (dated 15 June 2013) - note that this is not the Final Roll as used in the 31 July election.
    4. 2008 Delimitation Report

    Whilst this analysis does not draw on the final voters roll used in the election itself it is revealing in several respects. Common to the nationwide picture there are hardly any people in the 18 to 23 age band age group as indicated in the following table indeed accordingly the roll only 1799 in the 18 to 29 age groups out of a total adult population assessed by the census to be 28617!

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