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2002 Presidential & Harare Municipal elections - Index of articles
Statement on the 2002 Presidential Elections
March 14, 2002
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.
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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