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  • 2002 Presidential & Harare Municipal elections - Index of articles

  • Statement on the 2002 Presidential Elections
    Women's Coalition
    March 14, 2002

    The Women's Coalition, an umbrella body of individual Zimbabwean women and women's
    non-governmental organisations rejects the outcome of the 2002 Presidential elections for the following reasons:

    • Since the constitutional referendum in February 2000 women's participation in the political process has been severely limited by the political climate of intolerance, intimidation and violence.
    • Thousands of women have been the silent and invisible victims of an orchestrated campaign of terror and political violence that has swept the country over the last two years. Women have been battered, have watched as their husbands, partners and children have been beaten and tortured, their property destroyed or been displaced from their homes. The perpetrators of these crimes have been the youth militia and so called war veterans who forced young girls and women into sexual slavery. Cultural taboos around the issue of rape have silenced the women, many of who will never tell their stories. The impact of this sexual violence will live with these women forever, especially given the high levels of HIV/AIDS.
    • Many of the new laws governing the election that were rushed through parliament in the last few months were extremely opaque and had the overall effect of violating women's' right to vote. In particular the requirements for registration, for instance proof of residence was made a requirement for registration even though it is well known that documents such as utility bills are registered under the names of spouses.
    • The Amendment of the Zimbabwe Citizenship Act dispossessed women of their right to vote because of the laborious and expensive process required to renounce either their foreign citizenship or their parent's foreign citizenship. Most rural women had no access to information on the new laws and no access to resources.
    • It is a fact that over 60 percent of women live in the rural areas and have no access to information and education on their rights as citizens. As a result of the new laws these women were deprived of civic and voter education which is normally provided by non-governmental organisations. The information provided by the Electoral Supervisory Commission was too little, too late and did not address the specific needs of women.
    • We deplore the authorities deliberate attempt to discourage and frustrate voters in urban areas by reducing the number of polling stations. Their decision demonstrated the indifference and contempt towards women who shoulder the burden of domestic, family and other responsibilities. Many women were forced to leave the queue to perform these duties.
    • The thrust of the Zanu PF presidential and parliamentary campaign centered on land redistribution. Over 60 percent of Zimbabwean women work and live on rural land, yet the current land distribution programme has in no way enhanced women's access and control of the land. The violation of women in this campaign has been justified by the need to redress imbalances of the past. Women have doubly suffered from this campaign. They have not gained access or control of land; instead they have borne the brunt of the violence associated with the campaign. 
    • We take great exception to statements applauding the patience and resilience of Zimbabwean voters who waited in queues for hours on end. Such statements suggest that it is acceptable for Africans to be inconvenienced and subjected to these levels of discomfort.

    It is for all these reasons that the Women's Coalition concludes that the elections were conducted in an unsafe, unfair and unacceptable environment for the women of this country.

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