Zimbabwe’s 2018 election credibility under scrutiny

This is just a week after President Mnangagwa proclaimed 30th July the election date. According to a report released by Human Rights’ Watch, the ability of voters to choose their leaders freely in this crucial poll is in serious doubt.

The government has failed to carry out legal and electoral reforms, despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s repeated promises and assurances for a free, fair and credible poll.

Human Rights’ Watch says abusive laws remain in effect. Electoral violence and intimidation witnessed during the primary elections of both the ruling Zanu PF and the main opposition, were not conducive to an environment for free and fair elections.

Election campaigning is in full swing. Parties are battling it out. However, Human Rights’ Watch has concerns.

“In our research we have found widespread intimidation, harassment, and threats of violence mainly by supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party to coerce members of the public to hand over their voter registration slips and commit to vote for Zanu-PF. Party members have intimidated voters by reminding them of violence that occurred during the 2008 elections,” says Human Rights’ Watch’s Dhewa Mavhinga.

The group is also accusing Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission of involving serving personnel from the military in its ranks.

“Zimbabwe’s military and other state security forces have for many years interfered in the nation’s political and electoral affairs, adversely affecting the right of Zimbabweans to vote for the candidates of their choice. The military leadership should publicly demonstrate its commitment to a fair election process and not interfere with the outcome of the vote. Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission with respect is captured by the military given the number of military personnel retired and serving that are in its administration. So what we are going to see if the opposition were to lose this election, it will be technical blood on the floor , it will be through voters roll rigmarole, where are the voters roll , why should it be a secret. Why should it not be audited, why should we not access it,” says Mavhinga “

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Political parties were not spared criticism either. “Incidents of political violence and intimidation characterised the primary elections in May 2018 to choose parliamentary election candidates in the Zanu- PF party and the MDC-T. The MDC-T appears to have established a militia uniformed group called the vanguard, which was implicated in several cases of violence against former party Deputy President Thokozani Khupe. We urge all political parties to ensure that their members act peacefully, allowing others to associate freely and express themselves no matter their political views. “

This is a call supported by the Zimbabwean president. “Allow me once again to call upon my fellow citizens and leaders of political parties to display the same resolve and commitment both in words and deeds, peace, peace, peace and unity. The world is watching, but more importantly our people deserve our mature and respectful conduct as we solicit their support and votes.”

Mnangagwa’s says restraint and fairness is expected from election observers and urges them to stick to their core business. That is even though he has opened doors to the world to observe the election.

“Allow me to encourage those coming to observe our elections to acquaint themselves with our electoral laws and institutional arrangements so that they honestly determine and weigh any demands and complains from whatever quarter against reasonableness in terms of our law.”

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