Preliminary report on 2013 election

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) as part of its comprehensive effort to observe the 2013 harmonised elections deployed over 7 000 observers to every province and constituency in the country.

Generally, the environment was relatively calm and peaceful.

Based on the empirical reports from our observers, regardless of the outcome, the credibility of the 2013 harmonised election is seriously compromised by a systematic effort to disenfranchise an estimated million voters.

Before election day the voter registration process was systematically biased against urban voters.

The voters’ roll of  June 19, as provided by the Office of the Registrar General clearly showed that urban voters had systematically been denied the opportunity to register to vote.

A total of 99.97 percent of rural voters were registered while only 67.94 percent of urban voters were registered.

Over 750 000 urban voters were missing on the voters’ roll compared to rural voters.

In contravention of the law, the final voters’ roll was not made available in electronic format prior to election day. Thus there is no way to assess any bias on the final voters’ roll.

On election day urban voters were further systematically disenfranchised.

At 82 percent of urban polling stations many potential voters were turned away and not permitted to vote for reasons which include names not appearing on the voters’ roll and turning up at the wrong ward for voting.

This is in sharp contrast to rural areas where only 38 percent of polling stations turned away many potential voters.

This served to disenfranchise thousands more of urban voters on election day.

These factors on their own fundamentally undermine the degree to which the results of the 2013 harmonised election can be considered to reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.

When compounded by the massive bias in the State media, the campaign of intimidation in rural areas, the lack of meaningful voter education, the rushed electoral process and the harassment of civil society leaving the credibility of these elections severely compromised.

Zesn calls on the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community  (Sadc) to be objective in their evaluation of these elections and take into cognisance the pre-election issues that have a bearing on the ability of citizens to genuinely choose their government.

We reiterate that, it is not sufficient for elections to be peaceful.

For elections to be credible they must offer all eligible citizens a reasonable opportunity to register to vote; to inform themselves about the candidates; to vote on election day and for their votes to be properly counted.

We are deeply concerned that for urban voters the first three principles have already been violated.

As a non-partisan body, Zesn observes elections to ensure that Zimbabweans freely exercise their right to vote and provide citizens with independent information on the process.

As an umbrella network we do not support any political party, but rather we support the right of all to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Zesn conducts its observation efforts in conformity with the Declaration of Global Principles for Citizen Election Observation and Monitoring which was launched at the United Nations on 03 April 2012(1) as well as the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the Sadc Region (PEMMO).

Our findings and recommendations are made in reference to: the laws of Zimbabwe; the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections as well as other regional and African election standards.

Our observers comprised mobile observer teams, stationary polling station observers at specific polling stations, and constituency observers were deployed to Zec Constituency Centres to witness the collating of results.

A special group of more than 700 observers were deployed to a sample of polling stations in every province and constituency of the country to provide national representative data in real time.

This preliminary statement is based on the observations of this group of observers.

Ninety Five percent of Zesn observers reported polling stations were open by 7:30 am with essentially all polling stations open by 9am.

Zesn observers reported that by 7am, the official opening time, ballot boxes were at 100 percent of polling stations; ballot papers at 97 percent of polling stations; the Zec official stamp at 94 percent of polling stations; indelible ink at 94 percent of polling stations; and the voters roll at 99 percent of polling stations.

By 9am, Tsvangirai’s MDC had polling agents at 96 percent of polling stations and Zanu PF at 98 percent of polling stations.

MDC (Ncube), however, had polling agents at only 48 percent of polling stations (predominantly Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Harare).

All other political parties combined had polling agents at 46 percent of polling stations.

Across the country, polling stations averaged nine Zec staff with on average six female Zec staff in urban polling stations and five in rural polling stations.

At 83 percent of polling stations police officers were stationed inside polling stations despite the fact they are allowed to be inside polling stations at the invitation of the presiding officer.

Zesn observers reported that 98 percent of polling stations were set up so that voters could mark their ballot in secret.

However, 12 percent of polling stations were not easily accessible, including for people with disabilities.

This problem was equally prevalent in urban and rural wards.

At 100 percent of polling stations the ballot box was shown to be empty before they were sealed.

However, at eight percent of polling stations an accounting of ballot papers was not done as part of the setup procedures.

Zesn observers reported at 99 percent of polling stations voters’ fingers were checked for indelible ink before a person was permitted to vote and at 100 percent of polling stations names were checked against the voters’ roll before a person was permitted to vote.

At 99 percent of polling stations ballot papers were stamped with the Zec stamp when being issued and at 99 percent of polling stations voters had their fingers marked with indelible ink.

At 49 percent of polling stations Zesn observers reported 25 or more potential voters being turned away and not permitted to vote.

The main reasons why people were turned away included that they were not on the voters’ roll even though they had voted in previous elections, they were in the wrong wards and some had registration slips and names were not appearing on the voters’ roll.

However, this problem was much more prevalent in urban than rural areas.

While at 39 percent of rural polling stations Zesn observers reported more than 25 potential voters being turned away and not permitted to vote, at 82 percent of urban polling stations more than 25 potential voters were turned away and not permitted to vote.

In contrast, at 89 percent of polling stations only five or fewer people were improperly allowed to vote.
At 38 percent of polling stations 25 or more people were assisted to vote.

There was a sharp contrast between urban and rural polling stations.

At 49 percent of rural polling stations more than 25 people were assisted to vote as opposed to only five percent of urban polling stations.

However, at 88 percent of polling stations assisted voters were allowed to be assisted by a person of their choice.

At 98 percent of polling stations Zesn observers did not witness any campaigning within 200m of the polling station.

At 96 percent of polling stations there were no unauthorised persons in the polling station during voting.

At 98 percent of polling stations there were no incidents of intimidation or harassment of voters.

At 99 percent of polling stations no one attempted to disrupt the voting process.

At 91 percent of polling stations disabled persons, the elderly and pregnant/nursing women were allowed to go to the front of the queue.

At 82 percent of polling stations no one was queueing at 7pm when voting was scheduled to end and at just six percent of polling stations there were 25 or more people in the queue.

At 89 percnt of polling stations everyone in the queue at closing time was permitted to vote.

At 98 percent of polling stations Zesn observers reported no one attempted to intimidate or influence election officials during counting nor did anyone attempt to disrupt the counting process.

At 99 percent of polling stations where Zanu PF polling agents were present they signed the V-11 results form.
Tsvangirai led MDC polling agents signed the V-11 results form at 97 percent of polling stations at which they were present. At 97 percent of polling stations where MDC (Ncube) polling agents were present and at 84 percent of polling agents from all other parties singed the V-11 results form.

At 90 percent of polling stations all polling agents present were given a copy of the V-11 results form and at 97 percent of polling stations the official results were posted outside.

Zesn is continuing with the observation of the entire process, collation, tabulation and verification of the election results.

We urge Zec to handle the results management in a transparent and timeous manner.

Based on our assessment so far, although the pre-election period was calm and peaceful, there are many other critical factors that can undermine the credibility of the entire electoral process.

The preparations were inadequate, voter registration and voters’ roll was flawed, voter education was limited and the special voting was chaotic.

Polling day processes were  smooth and no major incidents were reported.

We urge observers and all stakeholders to look below the surface as there are some grave issues that have arisen. All is not well.

•The major focus of the Network is to promote democratic processes in general and free and fair elections in particular.

Comments (7)

Please tell us how many polling stations where there, so we can be able to calculate the average number of those who could not vote

Regis - 2 August 2013

ZESN members are important and credible observers of Zimbabwe elections because they are from Zimbabwe, they live in Zimbabwe, they work in Zimbabwe , they eat in Zimbabwe, , they sleep in Zimbabwe. We believe in their truthful findings 100%. Their findings of rigging and fraudlent voting activities of ZANU PF are credible whilst the findings of AU and SADC are false. AU and SADC observers are outsiders, who do not live in Zimbabwe , and also it has been said that they SADC and AU have already been bought by ZANU PF by money from diamonds to come to Zimbabwe to turn a blind eye on the huge fraudlent election vote rigging by ZANU PF. The AU and SADC were told by ZANU PF to say that elections were free and fair, yet as we see it , these elections have not been free and fair at all because ZANU PF has rigged the elections very conspicuously , for all eyes to see , in broad daylight!!!!! We must also take note that ZEC who are in charge of Zimbabwe elections all belong to ZANU PF which means that ZANU PF is in charge of the elections and the ZEC were told to manipulate votes in favour of ZANU PF. AU and SADC OBSERVERS are conspicuously on the side of ZANU PF and they will do as they are told, and their credibility is fake and they do not live in Zimbabwe and they are outsiders, so no Zimbabwean will ever trust these AU and SADC people ever again to help in Zimbabwe's polling stations because they are false witnesses in favour of ZANU PF. Tsvangirayi has won the elections and his winning votes has been swapped vice versa by ZANU PF , where Tsvangirayi has 10,000 votes and ZANU PF only 100 votes , the numbers have been swapped to give ZANU PF 10,000 votes and Tsvangirayi 100 votes, because ZEC is ZANU PF and they can do this behind closed doors easily !!!!

We Have Been Robbed - 2 August 2013

ZESN I doubt your claim of impartiality. You are singing the mdc song and that of your financiers. Could you please substantiate tour claims by giving specific figures and examples. If most Urban voters were turned away how does this favour one party? How then did mdc manage to win most seats in Harare and Bulawayo? Musatengesa nyika nekuda mari dzemaNGOs.

Commander Guvamatongo - 2 August 2013

Before we take most of your facts, first tell us where you got the money to deploy 7000 observers, and what exactly are you trying to say by compromised elections. i voted in secrecy and there were no chances of double voting. Major factors have been already been revealed that you ZESN is a compromised organisation. he who pays the piper calls for the tune. You are an irrelevant organisation to Zimbabwe's democratic process.

reason - 2 August 2013

whats troubling me is how and when did the people of this nation just turned and decided to vote otherwise when its an open secret that mdc did everything they could to advance the cause of common folk manje siyahamba lo parirenyatwa david,herbert murerwa, mnangagwa as our ministers back to government that loots

murombo - 2 August 2013

Where and how does a nation suffering for 33 years under a dictator like Mugabe all of a sudden turn and vote for the devil??? Can these people really pull such a move and get away with it?? Only in Zimbabwe where Mugabe and his crew takes the rest of the world for fools. We ask the civilized world to stop this criminal, if they don't civilization is doomed.

Zuze - 2 August 2013

Zuze, the nation knows that their suffering is as a result of the sanctions that the united MDC solicited from the West

Checheni - 5 August 2013

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