Ruth Weiss: Zimbabwe before the elections (35)


Victory over democracy, the lawyer and brilliant writer Petina Gappah, author of "An Elegy for Easterly" called it: Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF amazing huge victory - 61% against 34% - over his opponents. A victory accepted by the AU and SADC as free and peaceful, not free and fair and urging Zanu-PF's opposition to accept the outcome.

SADC however, is split, with the report of Botswana's 80-persons mission causing the Botswana government to call for a voters' audit. While the head of the SADC lawyers mission castigated the press for blaming SADC without waiting for the detailed, official report, South African President Jacob Zuma lost no time in congratulating Mugabe. Former President Thabo Mbeki concurred with the AU Mission, which voiced concern about some `irregularities', but he insisted that Zimbabweans must be allowed to choose their own leaders. Others blamed the British for accepting Mugabe in 1980 in the first place - though there was really no alternative then - and not interceding later during the Matabeleland horrors or the seizure of commercial farms.(1)

There is little outsiders can do, with Zanu-PF now having the power to change the constitution to write any opposition into oblivion. Any further SADC mediation would not be accepted, according to Zanu-Pf's Patrick Chinamasa.(2)

UK's Foreign Minister William Hague expressed his concern over irregularities, as did the EU and Australia, with USA's Secretary of State John Kerry said the election did not represent the will of the people.(3) Other commentators felt MDC had lost its appeal during the four years of coalition government with Zanu-PF.

Mugabe's response inevitably blasted the West, as usual accusing western governments of bankrolling the MDC, (conveniently forgetting his massive support by China and Chinese diamond companies.) (4)

Among those denouncing the outcome as fraud was the UK based Action for Southern Africa (Actsa) and the Federation of Unions for South Africa (Fedusa). Tan Fedusa observer, Elias Bila, part of the Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC) observer team pointed out that many persons were not found on the voter' roll, while others were on a separate roll and allowed to vote. Moreover, in some cases the police not Zec counted the votes. Allegedly rural voters subsequently discarded IDs of deceased persons which they had been given in order to vote. Others claimed they had been told to claim assistance with voting.(5)

Zanu-PF's landslide win as announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) on August 2, left stunned opposition parties and disappointed voters, with dismay and dejection in the rank of the opposition. Even the unbelievable has happened on paper: Matabeleland, whose inhabitants have loathed Zanu-PF since the Gukurahundi massacre of the 1980s, has voted solidly for Zanu-PF! And in former MDC strongholds such as Manicaland, MDC lost heavily. While numerous accusations of rigging were previously recorded and more reported on election day, no one had expected as thorough a theft as this. For Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC leader, it may well be the end of his political road.(6)

In a filmed 4 minute scene on election day, MDC's former Finance Minister Tendai Biti challenged the legality of busloads of young voters from remote Manicaland at a Mt. Pleasant polling station by questioning a Zec official, who acknowledged the voters were not registered. Nonetheless they were seen joining the queues, where they were given preference, with the Zec man saying that they had voting slips.(7)

The Zim Mail wrote that the absence of violence should not be the focus, but an analysis of the voters' roll.(8) The Zimbabwe Information Centre, Sydney pointed out:

  • The deeply flawed voters' roll containing huge numbers of very old people, compared with the young, thousands of whom were disenfranchised by having been unable to register ;
  • The voters' roll was illegally provided only hours before voting began, which made a proper inspection impossible;
  • Voters were registered in wards far from where they lived, leading to almost 40% voters turned away;
  • Voters bussed into urban constituencies to vote eg Harare South, Epworth voted with registration slips though they were not on the voters' roll;
  • Unaccounted for voters especially in farming areas. Moreover, 34% more ballot papers were printed than were warranted by the number of voters.

Mkhululi Nyathi , one of the nine Zec Commissioners has resigned, dissatisfied with the Commissions handling of the election. He was followed by another, Geoff Feltoe, who said he wished to pursue his academic interests. MDC declared that it would provide SADC with a dossier of irregularities and also take legal action. These moves seem unlikely to succeed.(9)

The voters' roll - on which Registrar Registrar Tobaiwa Mudede refused to answer questions at a press conference - appeared to be the key to rigging, including as it did:

  • 1 million dead voters and a large amount of voters in the Diaspora;
  • Over 350,000 people over 85 years old and 109,000 over one hundred years old, in a country with an average life expectancy of 50;
  • 838,000 duplicate names with identical name, address, date of birth, different ID numbers. All the ID's had been issued by the Registrar General;
  • 500,000 people moved out of their residential areas to other electoral districts, 45,000 ID numbers changed without the owners' consent.

Zanu-PF moved hundreds of thousands of people into strategic areas ahead of the poll. A million people were settled on farms seized in peri-urban areas, with Zanu-PF allocating or selling small plots of land to homeless people in urban slum areas and threatened them with eviction if they did not vote for the party. Retribution of MDC voters began in the aftermath of elections. Riot police are on guard outside MDC party headquarters.(10)

MDC was only handed a hard copy of the voters' roll with over 6m voters on instruction of the Court on election day. An electronic copy was not made available, which would be easier to verify.(11)

As Zanu-PF mole Baba Jukwa summed it up: Mugabe's ace was the voters' roll.(12)

Sundry questions are being asked, in particular about the economy: will Zanu-PF continue its rapacious policies which enrich the elite and impoverish the country? Will Mugabe bring back the Zim. Dollar, as he had promised? Will the indigenisation policy roar ahead? Will investors and western aid stay away? If they do, will Zanu-PF be forced to change course? If they do not, will the people turn against the government? Until now, the latter have remained remarkably docile - or better said, cowed.

  1. The Zimbabwean 6.8, DA-Zameye 4.8, Daily Mail 4.8, 7.8
  2. SW Radio Africa 3.8
  3. ABC Radio Australia 3.8, Xinhuan 3.8, BBC 3.8
  4. SW Radio Africa 7.8
  5. SW Radio Africa 5.8, 7.8
  6. latimes.com [HYPERLINK: http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-zimbabwe-president-mugabe-reelected-opponents-cry-foul-20130803,0,6792463.story?]. 3.8, AFP 3.8, SW Radio Africa 3.8, Sokwanele 4.8
  7. ZimEye, 2.8
  8. Zim.Mail 4.8
  9. BBC 3.8,Mail and Guardian 3.8, SW Radio Africa 7.8
  10. SW Radio Africa 7.8
  11. SW Radio Africa 3.8
  12. The Zimbabwean 6.8

Letzte Änderung: Tuesday, 13-Aug-2013 13:49:30 CEST [an error occurred while processing this directive]