Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe signed legislation that brings the nation’s election laws in line with the constitution, Virginia Mabhiza, permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, told lawmakers today. The law allows for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to take control of the voters’ roll from the Registrar General’s office, which oversees registration of births and deaths and identity cards. Opposition parties, including the Movement for Democratic Change, have criticized the government for failing to give them access to an electronic copy of the roll in elections between 2000 and last year.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party has rejected the final report of Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s Election Observer Mission (SEOM) validating Zimbabwe’s July 31 polls as free, fair and credible. SEOM leader Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe on Monday delivered the final report which stated the Zimbabwean election had been held in a credible manner, Zimnbabwean news agency New Ziana reported. But former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party said the mission had failed to take note of various irregularities which it deemed were too many for the election to be given credence.
Zimbabwe’s highest court has dismissed a case challenging President Robert Mugabe’s re-election last month and upheld the re-election of longtime leader. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku told a packed courtroom Tuesday that Mugabe had been elected in accordance with Zimbabwe’s laws. He made the ruling while dismissing an application that had been filed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost the July 31 election. Terrence Hussein, the lawyer for Mugabe, said, “We are quite happy because it has brought stability and certainty. We can now all move on. I think we all now know who our president is for the next five years.” Mugabe will be sworn in no later than Thursday, thus extending his 33-year rule over Zimbabwe by another five years.
Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC withdrew a court challenge against President Robert Mugabe’s re-election through a vote the party had denounced as fraudulent, saying on Friday it would not get a fair hearing. Mugabe, 89, and his ZANU-PF party were declared winners of the July 31 election but the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had filed a motion for the constitutional court to overturn the result. A hearing on the MDC challenge, which had alleged widespread vote-rigging and intimidation by ZANU-PF, had been planned for Saturday. “I can confirm that we have withdrawn the presidential election petition. There are a number of reasons, including the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release critical evidence in this matter,” MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said. The decision appeared to end any hope of further action by the MDC through the courts, which Tsangirai’s party have said are dominated by ZANU-PF along with other state institutions in the southern African nation, formerly known as Rhodesia.
Some 300,000 voters were turned away and 206,000 received assistance from election officials during last week’s disputed vote, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said Thursday. The commission said nearly 3.5 million people cast their ballots in last weeks elections which extended President Robert Mugabe’s 33-year rule after he won 61% of the presidential vote against rival Morgan Tsvangia’s 34% . ZEC’s statistics show that nearly 305,000 people were turned away from voting with the largest number – about 64,000 – turned away in the Harare alone. The voters were reportedly turned away because their names were missing from the voters’ roll, they were registered in another ward or they did not have adequate identification.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has for the first time admitted that elections held last week were tainted with massive irregularities which saw 511 791 voters disenfranchised either through assisted voting or being turned away. The MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai issued a statement saying the admission by the nine-member electoral commission vindicated their position that the elections were a monumental farce as “Zanu PF assisted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the State machinery stole the people’s victory. In the figures released by ZEC today at the request of the MDC-T, a total of 206 901 voters were assisted to vote while 304 890 people were turned away with Harare province recording the highest number of 64 483 such people,” the MDC-T said. A total of 3.4 million people voted in the disputed election.
A Zimbabwean election commissioner has resigned, citing doubts about the integrity of results showing a big win for President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party but dismissed as a fraud-riddled farce by his main challenger. Mkhululi Nyathi said he quit the nine-member Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) over the way it managed the presidential and parliamentary vote held on Wednesday. His resignation is likely to add to the dispute over the election both inside and outside Zimbabwe. The vote, which looks certain to extend 89-year-old Mugabe’s 33-year rule in the southern African nation, passed off peacefully and received broad approval from African observers. Africa’s oldest leader, Mugabe has governed the former British colony, then known as Rhodesia, since independence in 1980. Mugabe’s main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has denounced the July 31 election as a “huge farce”, alleging massive rigging by ZANU-PF. Zimbabwe’s largest domestic observer group has also called the elections “seriously compromised”
The chaos in the voting process has strengthened allegations that Zanu-PF, with the help of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), wants to steal the polls by disenfranchising people in urban areas which are perceived to be MDC strongholds. Several police officers who failed to cast their ballots during the special vote also failed to vote on Wednesday after finding their names crossed off the roll, an indication that they had voted. ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told journalists the commission did not have an idea of how to deal with the police officers who were turned away other than investigating. “We are investigating cases in which such officers didn’t vote because the register indicated they voted as their names were crossed out,” she said. Only names of those who had successfully cast their ballots were supposed to be crossed off the voters’ roll. Makarau confirmed some voters had been turned away despite producing registration slips as evidence. She said the registration slips of those who failed to vote did not indicate the wards in which they were supposed to cast their ballots.
The first official results from Zimbabwe’s election and unofficial tallies indicated Thursday that President Robert Mugabe’s party was headed for a landslide win. But Mugabe’s main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, rejected Wednesday’s poll as a sham and warned that the country was headed for a crisis. A number of observers and civil society groups said Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party made huge gains in areas that were strongholds for Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, including Matebeleland South, Manicaland and Masvingo. The party had an overwhelming lead in early parliamentary results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. ZANU-PF made no official victory claim over Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change, withdrawing what it described as an unauthorized tweet from the party account that had claimed a resounding win. But a senior ZANU-PF figure told Reuters news agency that his party had crushed the opposition.
Scores of human rights campaigners gathered at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Harare offices Monday and Tuesday, as part of on-going protests against alleged electoral fraud. The group, all members of the Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe, argues that ZEC lacks the capacity to run a credible election given the chaos and controversy that continue to hound the process. They further argue that the Commission presided over a flawed voter registration process which has left thousands of people unable to vote in next week’s election. ROHR President Ephraim Tapa said there are several aspects to the electoral process that they are not happy about.
Security forces and civil servants who failed to vote under the special vote dispensation will now cast their ballots with the rest of the electorate next Wednesday. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission yesterday summoned political parties to deliberate on the fate of those who failed to vote where it was resolved that all registered citizens must be allowed to vote. It was resolved that the commission would address legal issues to facilitate the votes. Sources close to developments said MDC-T, which had been quoting Section 81B:2 of the Electoral Act that says: “A voter who has been authorised to cast a special vote shall not be entitled to vote in any other manner than by casting a special vote in terms of this Part,” concurred with others after it was pointed out to them that the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to vote. Those who applied to cast their ballots under the special vote were drawn from the uniformed forces, election officials and civil servants who will be deployed far from their wards on July 31.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission yesterday started opening, verifying and tallying ballot papers cast nationwide during the special vote held between July 14 and 15. The process was done in the presence of political parties, regional and international observers.ZEC chief elections officer Mr Lovemore Sekeramayi and his deputy Mr Utoile Silaigwana superintended over the process while some commissioners also attended. Zanu-PF and MDC-T hailed the process saying it was transparent to the extent that no manipulation of results could be done.
Zimbabwe’s prime minister, who is also the country’s opposition leader, has said that it has lost faith in the electoral commission after “chaotic and disorganised” special voting for security forces ahead of key polls. Long queues and the late delivery of ballot papers marked the two-day early vote, which started on Sunday for police officers and soldiers who will be on duty on July 31 when the rest of the country votes. Many security force agents found themselves unable to vote, drawing condemnation from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Tuesday.
The delays yesterday during the special voting for police and other Government officials who are likely to be deployed away from their constituencies on July 31 were a result of events, not fundamental flaws in the electoral process or its organisation. The main problem was that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission did not have a final list of candidates, with their political affiliation, until late on Friday when the results of several court cases became known. But that final list for this weekend is the same final list for the main Election Day at the end of the month. So the ballot papers that were available for special voting are the same ballot papers that will be issued on July 31.
There was outrage across the country on Tuesday when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s chairperson Justice Rita Makarau announced that there is not going to be any extension for the voter registration exercise, a development which yesterday saw the Faceless Gladiator Baba Jukwa calling on other political parties to tighten their screws on the ZEC. Makarau yesterday said the exercise would end on Tuesday midnight and there will not be any extension. This came at a time when when many citizens were upon arriving at their usual polling station, told that they should present themselves at a different station previously unknown to them. One man who declined being named told ZimEye he arrived at the Showgrounds polling station in Kadoma only to be told that he should present himself at Mazowe at Mukosa polling station, Ward 2. The ZEC yesterday admitted these problems but chose only to extend the period by a paltry 7 hours to midnight on the same day.
A shadowy group which claims to be working in partnership with another group calling itself Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe (IdaZim) has created an online platform where people were able to check if their names appear on the voters’ roll. The data is found on their website www.myzimvote.com where one simply logs in their national identity number and instantly receives information, including their full names, ID, their Ward number and constituency where they were registered to vote if they voted in previous elections. The normal procedure prevailing if one wanted to check for the same information was to personally visit voter registration centres where one was expected to produce their identity particulars before the information could be checked for them by officials from the Registrar-General’s (RG) Office. Zimbabweans seeking this service have been complaining about enduring long queues and spending a lot of time at the registration centres just to have this information checked for them. Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau yesterday said the commission was aware of the website and was carrying out investigations to establish who was responsible for it.
Zimbabwe began registering new voters on Monday in a push to meet a Constitutional Court order to hold elections by July 31, even though one of the two main parties wants a delay to allow for reform of the media and security forces. President Robert Mugabe has said he will comply with the court order to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections, angering the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of his chief rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. To help ensure a fair vote, the MDC wants first to open up broadcast media to all parties and to agree a code to stop army and police meddling in politics. But the court ruling leaves little time for such reforms and the state media, still firmly in the camp of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, have stepped up attacks on Tsvangirai and the MDC in the last month. Senior police and army officers have openly campaigned for Mugabe, labelling Tsvangirai a Western puppet.
Voteer registration, now a standing cabinet agenda item, once again dominated the government policy-making body meeting this week, resulting in Justice Minister Patrick Chinamsa, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Rita Makarau, and Registrar General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede being instructed to meet to deal with the issue threatening to throw the electoral process into chaos. Chinamasa, Mudede and Makarau were expected to meet yesterday to find ways of smoothening voter registration which is increasingly becoming a contentious issue ahead of crucial general elections. The meeting was expected to take stock of all the problems which affected the mobile voter registration exercise, discuss ways of how “aliens” will get documents to enable them to register as voters as provided for by the new constitution and look at plans to establish schools as registration centres where headmasters will become commissioners of oath to allow all Zimbabweans to be able to register.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday met officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Registrar-General’s Office but failed to set up a new date for the commencement of mobile voter registration with no indication of when Treasury would release money for the exercise. At least US$21 million is required to conduct the exercise that was expected to begin last Thursday but failed to take off due to lack of funds. Addressing journalists after the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Charter House Office, ZEC acting chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe said her organisation was ready to start the registration any time if funds were made available.
Election results will be electronically transmitted countrywide to undo claims of vote tampering, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said. Acting ZEC chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe said the commission was installing software linking the national command centre with all district offices nationwide to enable ZEC to electronically transmit election results without fear of people tampering with the outcome.
On Friday, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Acting Chair, Joyce Kazembe was reportedly quoted by ZBC reiterating that the ZEC had a right to delay issuing of election results in the event of procedural irregularities. She also noted that the five day window period to release results as stated through the amended electoral law was subject to review. In other words, her message was that the release of results is a prerogative of the ZEC. This is a red flag marked by the ZEC’s failure to exercise free and fair reporting. Even the five day grace period is more than enough for results to be counted and reported to the nation at large. Such a statement could be a harbinger of issues to come in 2013. A delayed election result means undue prejudice to the citizenry. Such a delay also signifies ill motives to rig elections and tamper with the vote because there is no guarantee for safe, secure and proper accountability of election results in Zimbabwe especially after the 2008 experience. Regardless of arbitrary legislation in place, such promissory words by ZEC call for strict scrutiny because they already have a direct bearing on what is to come.
Cash-strapped Zimbabwe’s electoral commission on Tuesday said it needs $104 million to organise a referendum on a new constitution that would pave way for a vote on a successor to the country’s shaky coalition government. No referendum date has been set yet, but longtime President Robert Mugabe said he wants to hold it next month. However, the election body said it needs six weeks to make arrangements for the vote. Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chief Joyce Kazembe said it was ready to hold a referendum if funds are made available.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said on Tuesday it is ready to conduct the referendum on a new Constitution scheduled for November this year and harmonised elections slated for March next year provided it is availed of the requisite resources. Zimbabwe is due to conduct a Constitutional referendum most likely in November while general elections have been tentatively set for March 2013, reports Zimbabwe’s news agency New Ziana. ZEC acting chairperson Joyce Kazembe told a media conference that at least US$104 million was required for the referendum. “The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is always ready to conduct elections or a referendum. Technically, we are ready and technically we boast that we are one of the best organised to hold any elections on the basis that the Commission is properly resourced both financially and materially and human resource wise to hold that,” she said.
Zimbabwe needs $220-million to hold a constitutional referendum and fresh elections at dates yet to be set, a state daily reported on Wednesday.
“We came up with a budget we submitted to treasury and as long as we get the money we are ready to roll,” Joyce Kazembe, deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) told the Herald newspaper. “We have already trained our officers.”
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said Tuesday that a bill to reform the country’s electoral system is flawed because it leaves responsibility for compiling the voters roll with the registrar general, saying the Electoral Commission should do the job.
Under the Electoral Amendment Bill now moving through Parliament, the Office of the Registrar General retains control over the national voters list – albeit under the supervision and oversight of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said this will merely dilute accountability.
Zimbabwe: New bill does not create peaceful electoral environment: Zimbabwe Election Support Network | The Zimbabwean
In its preliminary response to the bill, which has been welcomed by some sections , the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said that it has, “critically assessed the draft Electoral Amendment Bill gazetted last month and suggested further improvements.”
“The Electoral Amendment Bill addresses a number of issues which ZESN believes are essential for the creation of a conducive environment and the levelling of the playing field for credible free and fair elections. At the same time ZESN notes that, even though some of the reforms will significantly improve the current electoral legal framework, the proposed amendments do not go far enough in addressing the creation of a peaceful electoral environment.”
Further election-related tensions surfaced in Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government this week as hardliners in President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF called for the removal of the country’s electoral commission chief, who they accused of overstepping his authority and sympathizing with the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Critics of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairman Simpson Mutambanengwe, a retired judge, charged that he made a statement recently at an elections symposium in Spain accusing war veterans with close ties to ZANU-PF of terrorizing rural dwellers.
ZANU-PF sources said the hardliners also took exception to Mutambanengwe’s publicly expressed position that elections cannot be held this year due to a lack of funds for the ballot, saying he has no mandate to make statements on election funding or timing.
Political parties and their members will be liable for criminal prosecution for pre-empting the official announcement of results of any national election, new poll regulations have revealed. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is the sole body mandated to run and announce poll results countrywide.
Regulations released last week also stipulate that before being nominated as a party candidate, a person would have to be certified by an officer whom a political party indicates to ZEC. This is expected to go a long way in curbing incidents where more than one candidate from one political party submit their names before the nomination court to stand for a particular constituency.