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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles


  • Interim statement on women and the 2013 harmonized elections
    Women's Coalition
    August 07, 2013

    Introduction

    The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) commends the generally peaceful atmosphere that prevailed on the voting and election day. We observed enthusiasm and dedication among the electorate as women and men were standing in queues long before daybreak, some having slept in the queues. Zimbabwe is holding the elections in the context of a new Constitution, which affirms women’s equal participation in decision-making. Zimbabwe is signatory to the SADC and African Union Protocols on women, elections and democracy.

    WCoZ notes that there was insufficient gender sensitive voter education. We observed that many women were disenfranchised due to lack of adequate time and information around voter registration as citizens. In addition, some women were shut out due to the request for proof of residence. Some citizens queued for more than seven hours and at times for two days especially in urban areas such as Harare, Norton, Chitungwiza and Bulawayo and this compromised their right to register and subsequently vote. In addition, people were not able to verify their names on the voter’s roll as it was only released on the eve of the elections.

    Concerns

    • WCOZ observes with dismay that there are fewer women participating as candidates for National Assembly, with only 44 women out of 420 candidates from the two main political parties; ZANU PF and MDCT.
    • We are also concerned about the many reported cases of young voters being turned away because their names did not appear on the voters roll, even though they registered. It was also noted that some people were not aware of their specific wards and subsequently ended up at the wrong polling stations. Some were referred to their correct wards but ended up not voting after being demoralized by standing in the wrong queues for too long. Many others that presented voter registration slips were also turned away as it appeared that polling officers had no uniform information concerning voters turning up with voter slips.
    • Assisted voters, which undermine secrecy and integrity of the vote - Key observations made by WCoZ during this period include a worrying and prevalent trend of assisted voters, including very literate individuals. These cases were prevalent in rural areas such as Mutoko South, Chiweshe, Zaka North, Chipinge South and Bikita South. The numbers of assisted voters ranged from 30 to 80 in the polling stations where WCoZ was observing. This could be an indicator of possible intimidation.
    • Requests for personal information of the voter before and after polling. There were observations of isolated cases where certain individuals outside polling stations were writing the names of those who had voted. It is not clear what those names would be used for. WCoZ fears that this could have been an intimidation tactic by political parties.

    Positives

    • We applaud ZEC for offering women the opportunity to be leaders in election management, as presiding and polling officers. We also value that the women of Zimbabwe are actively participating equally as observers.
    • WCoZ received many commendable reports of various polling stations giving first preference to the elderly, pregnant and breast-feeding women. The few places where this did not happen were perhaps attributable to lack of voter education and gender insensitivity. We commend and applaud the polling stations that also took the gender sensitive initiative of splitting queues for men and women, which indicated sensitivity to women’s needs.
    • WCoZ commends civil society organizations like ZESN, ZCC, CCJP for the inclusion of WCoZ in observation missions.
    • We valued the opportunity to meet with the SADC and AU election observers.

    Recommendations

    Recalling the 2008 experience with post-election violence, as women of Zimbabwe we are calling for restraint, tolerance, responsible leadership and citizenship. As mothers we want to build a future of young people for today and tomorrow. Let’s put our nation first.

    We are calling for responsible, balanced and constructive media reporting. We appreciate the effort for profiling women and gender issues.

    We call for increased space for engagement with Zimbabwean leadership and Africa Union and SADC.

    *The WCoZ Situation Room was established during the election period to;

    1. Amplify the voices of Zimbabwean women on elections and governance
    2. Build understanding and knowledge among women as candidates and voters
    3. Provide a platform for proactive, coordinated and collective response to election related issues
    4. Establish active networks of peace advocates across Zimbabwe
    5. Reduce electoral violence and intimidation through dialogue and constructive conflict resolution.

    Visit the Women's Coalition fact sheet

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