22 August 2018

Zimbabwe: The July 30 Zimbabwean Election Failed to Pass the Test of Being Free, Fair and Credible - Act-SA Warns and Recommends Disbanding and Reconstituting ZEC Through an Inclusive and Transparent Public Process

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The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) has noted with grave concern that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), responsible for running the elections and counting votes, proved open to manipulation and subsequently the presidential results announced in favour of President Emmerson Mnangagwa are viewed as fraudulent. Equally disconcerting are current efforts by ZANU PF backed local authorities and Town Clerks to subvert the will of the people by setting up parallel structures to counter the activities of the MDC Alliance dominated local authorities and render them useless.

ACT-SA deployed members of its Community Anti-Corruption Monitoring Voluntary Action Groups (VAGs) and staff to monitor and report on acts of electoral corruption, electoral fraud, electoral malpractices and human rights abuses before, during and after the July 30 elections. The following observations were made by ACT-SA:

The general perception which is shared by a wide spectrum of the Zimbabwean population, especially in areas where ACT-SA sets up and empowered VAGs, is that ZEC is not as independent and professional as it should be. This perception also means that ZEC as it stands, is not trusted and what is also not trusted is the way or manner it managed/administered the July 30 election;

During the election, some ZEC recruited election presiding officers did not hide their political affiliation. A shining example being the case of Mr. Edson Kupenga, the headmaster of Rutendo Primary School in Redcliff, who ended up being relieved of his duties at around 1:00 p.m on the 30th of July 2018.

Widespread acts of psychological violence before and during elections as well as acts of physical violence after the election. For instance on the 19th of August 2018, ten (10) houses were stoned in the suburb of Mbizo Section 18 in Kwekwe by some political activists;

Voters, particularly in rural areas were forced to vote against their will for fear of the unknown such as being evicted from their plots (homes and source of livelihoods), and assaults among other threats given;

There is evidence that the number of registered voters in certain polling stations were exceeded by the number of votes cast, which raises suspicion of ghost voting, secret polling stations and vote stuffing;

There are perception among the general populace that some political parties that participated in the election were not genuine but contracted to join the race to disturb genuine parties that were a threat to the ruling party;

Against constitutional safeguards traditional leaders, especially village heads and chiefs actively participated in frog-marching voters to polling stations and threatening them with eviction from their plots;

In Kwekwe and Zhombe, polling agents had no choice to flee from their homes after ZEC demanded that they sign new V11 forms. In some areas, the V11 forms were signed by individuals who did not participate as polling agents;

In Kwekwe at Fitchlea Primary School, ZEC officials brought suspicious supplementary voters' roll, which was viewed as fraudulent;

Several Zimbabweans were deliberately disenfranchised due to a plethora of malpractices from ZEC. Some of the reasons included spelling mistakes, and missing names regardless of having registered.

A report by ACT-SA gives more information on the observations made.

Mr. Alouis Munyaradzi Chaumba, the Regional Coordinator of ACT-SA decried that he was finding it unbelievable that ZEC could be manipulated that way and demanded that it be disbanded and reconstituted.

"I have witnessed several elections in Zimbabwe but this one is different. The cheating has been done openly. How can the number of voters be fraudulently increased knowing very well that political agents had copies of the V11 forms showing genuine results? How can the number of votes cast exceed the number of registered voters in an area? How can for instance, ZEC make us believe that in Chiredzi North 37,819 people cast their votes at a rate of 1 voter per minute or two when even in towns each voter was taking approximately 3 to 5 minutes? We are demanding answers from ZEC. It's a sign that ZEC has failed and needs an overhaul or being disbanded completely. Africa should draw lessons from the Zimbabwean case study. Political capture of election management bodies is a recipe for disaster." he says.

In keeping with the observations made, ACT-SA made the following recommendations:

a) Disbanding and reconstituting the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) through an inclusive and transparent public process;

b) Investigating all cases in which the number of people who voted exceeded the number of registered voters in some areas;

c) Investigating all cases in which registered voters were placed in wards where they were not staying;

d) Investigating the partiality, politicization and militarization of ZEC, also putting into consideration a case of conflict of interest in which the ZEC Chairperson was implicated in a love affair with a senior ZANU PF official, and putting on ZANU PF regalia;

e) There should be an independent scrutiny of the voting and counting process and access to judicial review, or other equivalent processes so that electors have confidence in the security of the ballot and the counting of the votes.

Source: Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa

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