02 August, 2013

The Farce that is the Zimbabwean Elections

by Hussein Solomon

The elections in Zimbabwe are formally over and whilst we have to wait for the official results of the election, the ruling ZANU-PF is already claiming a landslide victory against Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). On the positive side and unlike the 2008 elections which was marred by an orgy of violence, there was little violence during this 2013 election. In addition, the election was also marked by high voter turn-out. Indeed most of the 6,4 million registered voters started queuing to cast their ballot well before sunrise and long after sunset. What was striking about the electoral contest between ZANU-PF and the MDC were the issues at stake. Whilst the MDC focused on jobs and kick-starting the moribund economy, Robert Mugabe focused much of his campaign on attacking homosexuals.

Robert Mugabe: Still the president? (Photo: Jeremy Lock)

On the basis of the relatively peaceful nature of the election, the African Union (AU) observer mission declared the elections to be “peaceful, orderly and free and fair”. However Solomon Zwane, chairperson of the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network has rightly stated that, “It is not sufficient for elections to be peaceful for elections to be credible”. There are several reasons to question the credibility of these elections. First, the level playing field in terms of the SADC roadmap did not materialize and this resulted in a bias state media and partisan security forces. Second, the voters’ roll which was to be released to all political parties before the poll could take place was never made available to them. Third, a video has surfaced showing ZANU-PF youth members being bussed in from rural areas to vote in urban city areas. Fourth, the names of thousands of voters were missing from the electoral roll whilst more than two million dead people appeared on the lists. Fifth, there was a campaign to stop voters from casting ballots, especially in those areas where the MDC had a strong constituency. These areas, for instance, had a sudden shortage of ballot papers or polling booths will close early or not open at all. According to Solomon Zwane more than a million voters were disenfranchised this way.

It is incredible that the AU can remain so sanguine about these polls under these circumstances. More importantly, it would be interesting to see what the reaction is from SADC since ZANU-PF had violated the roadmap from the beginning. What is clear is that ZANU-PF is preparing itself for a negative reaction from long-suffering Zimbabweans. As I pen this article, thousands of riot police have appeared to protect the headquarters of ZANU-PF.

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