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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published
by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action
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Zimbabwe: Election Reports
Zimbabwe: Election Reports
Date distributed (ymd): 020314
Document reposted by Africa Action
Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information
service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa
Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American
Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for
Africa at http://www.africaaction.org
Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+
This posting contains several reports on the election in Zimbabwe,
preceded by a brief statement by Africa Action. The reports here
are from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Committee, the SADC parliamentary delegation, and the
South African Official Mission. Additional reports are available
These include the report by the
Commonwealth Observer Group
Statement from Africa Action
The election just concluded in Zimbabwe had little chance of being
free or fair, in the context of two years of violence and
intimidation against the opposition. The descriptions of the poll
by independent observers, some cited below, leave little doubt that
the result will have little credibility for most people in
Zimbabwe, the region, or internationally.
Parliamentarians of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) and Commonwealth observers have joined local civil society
groups in identifying systemic and large-scale problems in the
electoral process. Meanwhile, pronouncements of legitimacy by
official observer teams, such as those from South Africa and
Nigeria as well as the OAU, do more to damage those governments'
and institution's own credibility than to add credibility to the
process in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe elections garnered disproportionate international
attention, and defenders of the government and other observers have
a valid point in noting the selectivity of this attention
especially among western countries. Recent elections in Congo
(Brazzaville), Zambia and Madagascar, for example, received no such
notice. While the focus on Zimbabwe highlights the inconsistency of
international concern for Africa's democracies, the experience of
Zimbabwe also reflects the contradictory state of democracy
throughout the continent.
On the one hand, incumbent governments have learned well how to
exploit their advantages to hold show elections designed to ensure
their re-election while still obtaining international acceptance.
On the other hand, the legitimacy of these exercises is
increasingly challenged by growing opposition parties, civil
society and independent media within these countries. There is
also heightened scrutiny of the electoral process, and a growing
commitment to democratic principles. Throughout Africa, the forces
of democratic change continue to gain momentum despite setbacks
such as those that have occurred in Kenya, Cote d'Ivoire, and now
The organizations that merged to form Africa Action share a
heritage of support for liberation in Zimbabwe and other African
countries dating back to the founding of the American Committee on
Africa almost 50 years ago. We acknowledge the historic
contributions to that struggle by many who now lead or serve in
governments in the region. In solidarity with today's campaigners
for democracy and social justice in African countries, however, we
stress that individuals, parties, and governments should be judged
not on their past victories but on their continued commitment to
promoting political, economic and social justice, and respect for
The urgency of protecting democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe is
just as great after the election as before. In this context, we
join in calling on the Zimbabwe government (1) to release hundreds
of election observers and others recently arrested for political
reasons, and (2) to refrain from any further restrictions on
internal protest and criticism.
After the election, as before, it is Zimbabweans and their
neighbors in southern Africa who will have the most weight in
determining what happens in response to that country's crisis.
That crisis has been deepened rather than eased by the election.
Democratic forces inside Zimbabwe are still considering what
actions they will take next. It is those actions that should set
the context for determining what additional outside measures are
most likely to be of help. One immediate priority, however, is very
clear. Those who support democracy in Africa should reject outright
any expedient attempt to grant the election a false legitimacy.
- - Africa Action
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
Tel / Fax: 480148/9
P.O. Box BE 630, Harare, Zimbabwe
March 12, 2002
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has been monitoring
the 2002 Presidential Elections since the general parliamentary
elections in the year 2000. The pre-election period has been marked
by the following developments:
The 'fast tracking' of legislation that impacts on the electoral
process resulting in:
- Disenfranchising voters through the voter registration process;N
- Registration of voters beyond 3 March 2002;N
- 'Correcting' the voters' roll;N
- Control of voter education through the Electoral Supervisory
- Drawing election supervisors and monitors from the Ministries of
Defence, Home Affairs and Education;N
- Disallowing postal voting;N
- Constituency-based voting;N
- Simultaneous holding of municipal and Presidential elections;N
- Restrictions concerning the accompanying of ballot boxes;N
- Printing of extra ballot papers;N
- Very restrictive and oppressive Public Order and Security Act;
In addition, several other measures have been of great concern to
- Unequal access to the state controlled media, in particular the
state media, with a bias towards the ruling party;N
- Restrictions concerning both local and international observers;N
- Confiscation and destruction of identity cards by youths of the
- The establishment of illegal road blocks by youths of the ruling
- Political violence, including torture and murders, largely
perpetrated by ruling party supporters against members and
supporters of the opposition;N
- The selective enforcement of the law by law enforcement agents;
The conduct of the poll
The Electoral Supervisory Commission accredited, at the last
minute, only 400 observers from our network, less than one
hundredth of the names that ZESN had submitted. This severely
curtailed the ability of ZESN and its network of 38 civic
organizations from effectively observing the elections.
We are very concerned about the deliberate distribution of polling
stations countrywide. There was a phenomenal increase in the number
of polling stations in the rural areas, in particular mobile
polling stations that are difficult to monitor and observe.
Stations in the urban areas were reduced by as much as 50 percent
in some constituencies while those in the rural areas were
increased. In Harare and Chitungwiza, this was particularly
worrying in that there were tripartite and bipartite elections
being held. The result was chaotic. Tens of thousands of Harare and
Chitungwiza voters were unable to vote even after the extension of
voting by one day. It is important to note that reports from Gweru,
Masvingo, Mutare, Bulawayo and Matebeleland North indicated that
several voters were no able to vote by Sunday night and many were
under the impression that there would be an extension of voting
days countrywide. Hence, even as vote counting begins, tens of
thousands of Zimbabweans were deliberately and systematically
disenfranchised of their fundamental right to participate in the
governance of their country. Without the participation of the full
electorate there can be no democracy.
Meanwhile, we express great concern about the figures we are being
provided concerning the number of registered voters in the rural
and urban areas. It appears there has been a deliberate attempt to
significantly inflate the numbers of voters in the rural areas.
ZESN commends the Zimbabwean populace for their resilience and
determination to remain peaceful in the face of this potential
These elections violate almost all of the SADC Parliamentary Forum
Norms and Standards.
- Voter registration was discriminatory and not transparent
- Voter education was disrupted and there was insufficient time for
the ESC to conduct voter education after the legislation was
The fast tracking of legislation meant that there was insufficient
time for the ESC to train its 22 000 monitors all of whom were
civil servants in particular the army and police
- It is inappropriate to include civil servants to monitor the
Registrar General's office. This task should have remained with
- There were disturbing episodes of violence even during the
polling days - opposition polling agents and our own monitors
harassed and prevented from carrying out their work.
- There was questionable data on the rural and urban divide which
stated that there was a higher voter turnout in the rural areas
than in the urban centers.
In summary, there is no way these elections could be described as
substantially free and fair.
As a result of these issues, ZESN recommends the need for an
Independent Electoral Commission that is protected by law and well
resourced to carry out elections.
ZESN warns that a flawed electoral process a potential cause of
conflict but calls on the people to remain calm but firm, resolute
even after the results are released.
Dr Reginald Matchaba-Hove, Chairperson
Crisis in Zimbabwe Committee
Press Statement on Election Results
13 March 2002
The Presidential election result announced today does not reflect
the will of the people because of the violence, fraud and rigging,
which characterized the pre-election and polling periods.
The period leading up to the election was fraught with innumerable
irregularities. The passing of the Public Order and Security Act
made it almost impossible for the opposition party to campaign and
hold political meetings. The opposition was also denied access to
the electorate through the public media. Voter education by civic
groups was criminalized until 9 days before the election.
The polling days were characterized by threats and violence.
Polling agents from the opposition party and observers drawn from
the civil society were assaulted, harassed and in some cases chased
away from polling stations. The net effect of this was that many
counting centers had no polling agents from the opposition. The
voting process was further manipulated by the reduction of the
number of polling stations in areas perceived to be strongholds of
the opposition, such as Harare, Gweru, Bulawayo, and Mutare.
The figures published for most rural constituencies are suspicious
and do not correlate with our observations and press reports of
rural voter turnout during the two days of polling.
We therefore reiterate our rejection of the election results. The
will of the people has been subverted. The product of a subverted
electoral process cannot be called a government, but a regime.
We also wish to express our absolute dismay at the unfortunate
position taken by the South African observer group regarding the
election. As Zimbabwean civic groups we hold that it was neither
free nor fair. In particular there was failure on the part of the
state to comply with the Electoral Act, SADC Norms and Standards
for Free and Fair Elections as well as International Human Rights
We call upon Zimbabweans to register their concern in accordance
with the Constitution starting this Friday.
COMPILED BY: CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE
B. Kagoro (Coordinator)
B. Raftopoulos (Chairperson)
Statement on the Zimbabwe Elections
SADC Parliamentary Forum Observer Mission (Windhoek)
March 13, 2002, Harare
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary
Forum has completed its interim assessment of the Zimbabwe 2002
On the invitation of the government of Zimbabwe by letter dated
February 4, 2002, the SADC Parliamentary Forum Observer mission
constituted a delegation of 70 members, consisting of 39 Members of
Parliament and support staff drawn from the Secretariat in
Windhoek, Namibia and eleven parliaments of the region.
It is the policy of the Forum to observe elections of all member
states starting with the pre-election phase. This is the seventh
election the Forum has observed in the region since 1999.
Since its inception of the observation programme, the Forum has
collectively evolved Norms and Standards for Elections in the SADC
region approved in March 2001. The main objective of the Norms and
Standards is to ensure the conduct of peaceful, free and fair
elections in the region.
In observing the elections, the Forum was guided by the
constitutional and legal framework of Zimbabwe and the Norms and
Standards for Election Observation in the SADC Region. Among other
things, the Mission was detailed to assess the security and
political environment in which the elections were to be held.
The Forum Deployed to all the ten provinces following consultations
and interaction with all stakeholders, including political
parties, electoral authorities, representatives of civil society,
media editors, Security officers and members of the Diplomatic
The teams proceeded to observe the campaign rallies, meetings,
preparations for elections, location of polling stations, media
coverage of elections, voting and counting processes and actions
that impinged on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the
citizens of Zimbabwe as enshrined in Part III of the constitution.
The Political and Security Climate
The Forum has observed that the political and security climate in
which the elections were conducted was complex. It was
characterized by high levels of polarization and political
intolerance, lack of communication amongst stakeholders and lack
of free flow of information to the electorate, which are necessary
conditions for democracy to prevail.
We observed noticeable differences in the provinces but generally
there was no euphoria that normally characterizes elections the
Violence and Intimidation
The election campaign was marred by incidents of violence in all
provinces of the country. Police and party leaders have not denied
the fact that there has been violence in various forms. What seemed
to be in question was the perpetration of that violence. Violence
was visited upon ordinary voters, party supporters and leaders
alike. Reports indicated that violence was perpetrated by
supporters of the two main political parties-the ruling Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition
Movement For Democratic Change (MDC).
Not only did the SADC Parliamentary Forum Witness some of these
acts, its mission members were themselves targets of an
orchestrated attack 10 kilometres out of Chinhoyi on 24 February.
However, evidence indicated that the majority of those affected
were supporters of the MDC or those perceived to be opponents of
the ruling party and government. Violence was manifest in the
number of hospitalized victims, numerous cases of alleged torture,
arson, assault and incidences of false imprisonment.
The prevalence of violence is reflected in virtually all reports
from our observers in the field, which included abduction of some
polling agents of MDC; in one such incident, our observer team
intervened when Police in Mashonaland Central detained 24 election
agents of the opposition party who were on their way to Harare to
Regrettably, the phenomena of political intolerance and violence
seem to have been prevalent since the 2000 legislative elections.
Acts of violence appeared to be systematically employed by youth
and War veterans with camps dotted around the country.
In any situation of conflict, the police were expected to be
impartial. In spite of the arrests made, there are significant
claims that the police have been partisan in handling of the
political situation when called upon to intervene. The use of riot
squads to disperse potential voters in some Harare constituencies
raised questions about the impartiality of the Police.
A voter's register is considered a basic condition for a successful
election. In this election, concerns have been raised regarding the
timeous release of the voter's roll which was only made available
three days before the polls, leaving no time for the electorate to
verify its accuracy. As a result of this, it was observed that a
large number of people were unable to vote.
Issues of the voter's roll were compounded by the announcement that
a supplementary register had been prepared and would be used in
the 2002 elections contrary to earlier announcements that
registration for 2002 was closed.
Freedom to Campaign
In any election, contestants should be able to move freely among
the electorate. In this election whereas the ruling party's
campaign was relatively uninterrupted, some of opposition party
meetings were cancelled or interrupted by opponents. It was
however, significant, in two instances in Harare and Bulawayo,
rallies of opposing parties were conducted in the same city without
any violence. This should be the norm.
Information to the electorate and other stakeholders on the
location of polling stations was not available to enable the
electorate to make informed decisions. Much as we appreciate the
increase of polling stations in rural areas, the reduction of the
number of polling stations in urban areas had a major impact on the
elections. This was particularly so in Harare and Chitungwiza where
tripartite elections were held. It resulted in congestion with some
people spending more than 48 hours in queues because of their sheer
determination to vote.
Voting and counting
We observed that in many provinces the voting was peaceful. Well
over 50 percent of the registered voters were able to cast their
vote. The major exception was the Harare Province where the voting
process was excruciatingly slow resulting in the extension of both
times and days of voting.
There were also a number of violent incidents in which the police
dispersed voters from polling stations especially in high-density
suburbs. Further, although a large number of people voted, a
significant number of the electorate was unable to vote as a result
of logistical, administrative and other impediments. The counting
proceeded very well.
It was significant to note that the recommendation from the Forum
observers for the polling agents to ride with the ballot boxes was
accepted and implemented. However, free movement of party agents
was compromised by acts of intimidation and reported abductions in
However, the massive turnout of voters demonstrates the commitment
of the people of Zimbabwe to multiparty democracy.
Lack of Independence of the Electoral Commission
Despite various recommendations and practices in the SADC region,
Zimbabwe is one of the countries without an Independent Electoral
Commission. The assignment of roles to three different electoral
bodies, the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), the Election
Directorate and the Registrar-General's Office affects efficiency
and causes duplication. The government should seriously consider
establishing an Independent Electoral Commission as recommended by
the Forum after the 2000 legislative elections and as held by the
Norms and Standards of Elections in SADC.
Access to Public Media
There was lack of access to the public media by political parties
other than the ruling party. The monopolization of the public
media by the ruling party went contrary to the guidelines set out
by the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) for equal and
equitable access to contesting parties. The slanted coverage the
state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and the
Zimbabwe Newspapers deprived the electorate an opportunity to make
an informed choice.
The climate of insecurity obtaining in Zimbabwe since the 2000
parliamentary elections was such that the electoral process could
not be said to adequately comply with the Norms and Standards for
Elections in the SADC region.
It is evident to us that elections may not, in themselves, be a
panacea to Zimbabwe's complex situation of political conflict. We
therefore appeal to the political leadership of the country, the
churches, civil society and the business sector to join hands and
begin a healing process for Zimbabwe in the face of enormous
problems. An election should not be construed to be one of "victor"
We also urge the Heads of State and Government of SADC countries to
urgently engage the leadership of Zimbabwe to facilitate dialogue
and reconciliation. We believe it is within the powers of the
people of Zimbabwe, through their leaders with the support of SADC
to avert a political crisis in the country and bring about peace.
Signed for and on Behalf of the SADC Parliamentary Forum Observer
Mission, Harare, Zimbabwe, 13 March 2002
Hon. Duke G. Lefhoko, MP Head of Mission
Vice-Chair Hon Dr Elvy Mtafu, MP
Vice-Chair Hon. Lutero Simango, MP
Interim Statement by the SA Observer Mission on the Zimbabwean
Presidential Elections of 9 and 10 March 2002
March 13, 2002
1. Pursuant to the invitation by the President of Zimbabwe, Robert
Mugabe, the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, assigned a
50-person observer mission led by Dr Sam Motsuenyane, to observe
the Zimbabwean Presidential elections of 9 and 10 March 2002;
2. The South African Observer Mission (SAOM) arrived in Zimbabwe in
three phases from the 13th of February 2002, to ensure that in its
mission it observes the pre-election, polling days and the
3. Based on its mandate and its method of work which included
mediation and conflict management, the SAOM recognised the
sovereignty of the Zimbabwean state and observed the elections
within the Zimbabwean legislative framework in an independent and
4. The members of the SAOM were deployed in all the electoral
provinces of Zimbabwe to ensure not only geographic
representativity, but also to cover the country-side and what were
perceived to be high risk areas;
5. The SAOM was also cognisant of the international and regional
significance of the Zimbabwean elections;
6. Overall, the 2002 Zimbabwean Presidential elections were a
challenging exercise, and the authorities charged with conducting
the elections discharged their work satisfactorily, except for the
decision to reduce the number of polling stations in some urban
areas - a decision which resulted in certain instances in
excessively long queues and the extension of polling hours in most
stations and days in Harare and Chitungwiza;
7. Based on its method of work and the deployment of its members,
the SAOM hereby makes its interim observations as follows:
7.1 The regulatory environment
The promulgation of laws, right up to and during the elections,
that were aimed specifically to cover the administration,
regulation and management of the said elections; the reversal of
some of these by the courts; the gazetting of regulations to
override the courts - all created an environment that not only
caused legislative uncertainty but also threatened the integrity of
the electoral process.
7.2 The electoral process
7.2.1. Pre-election assessment
Campaigning was characterised by polarisation, tension and
incidents of violence and intimidation. The intention seems to
have been to intimidate members of other parties. The role of the
SAOM and other international observers as well as the co-operation
of the Zimbabwean authorities, ensured that these tensions and
conflicts remained at a minimal level, thus polling days did not
suffer from the same.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for a free press. The media
in the country is characterised by a high level of political
polarisation. The so-called independent media was biased towards
the opposition MDC whilst the state-owned media gave limited
access to the opposition, favouring instead the ruling ZANU-PF
party. As for the international media, its role during these
elections tended to be overwhelmingly in support of the
7.2.3 Polling days assessment
Conduct of the electorates, security forces, party agents as well
as the closely followed rules of voting, counting and transparency
procedures, all contributed to the relative peacefulness of the
voting days. It is unfortunate that some registered voters were
turned away because of administrative oversight. Voter turnout
was, however, among the most important in Zimbabwe's 22 years of
7.3. Post-election assessment
The end of elections should provide the people of Zimbabwe with the
opportunity to address what we believe are the country's key
challenges: reconciliation and economic revival.
8. The SAOM is heartened by the fact that the opposition,
notwithstanding the comments expressed above, actively
participated in the campaign and the elections themselves, thus
legitimising the outcome of the said elections;
9. Similarly, the Zimbabwean people, in going out to vote in droves
on the polling days, not to mention their perseverance in the long
queues and slow voting processes, demonstrated their commitment to
expressing their will in determining who should be their President;
10. Based on our observations, it is the view of the SAOM that the
outcome of the 2002 Zimbabwe Presidential elections should be
11. The SAOM wishes to thank the Government and People of Zimbabwe,
including all political parties, for having received it and made
it possible for us to contribute to their democratic process;
12. We are hopeful that now that the people of Zimbabwe have
spoken, the world will respect their verdict.
Dr. Sam Motsuenyane
Leader: The South African Observer Mission
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