Zim's history of disputed elections

HARARE - Since the emergence of the opposition MDC party in 1999, Zimbabwe continues to have contested election results as Zanu PF maintains grip on power 38 years after the country attained independence from the British colonisers.

The country’s long history of disputed electoral outcomes has impacted negatively on the State’s legitimacy question and consequently, the lives of ordinary people.

All elections that have been conducted since 2002 have been subject to contestation, which has spilled into the courts for recourse. In all the court cases MDC has lost the challenges, with the 2002 presidential challenge judgment yet to be released.

The conduct of the 2002 election was strongly condemned by the Commonwealth, Norwegian observers, opposition parties, and Western governments.

Beyond this period Zanu PF, started using the security sector, government ministries and traditional chief to win elections.

It all started with the years former president Robert Mugabe was president of the country which saw him winning elections since 1980, until his resignation last November following an army intervention.

The country’s elections had been characterised with allegations of murder, beatings, rape, death threats, abductions, arbitrary arrests and forced displacement.

These atrocities were perpetrated against opposition supporters by the ruling party which used State machinery, with 2008 being one of the worst election years in Zimbabwean history.

In 2008 Tsvangirai won the election, leading to a bloody run-off in which the MDC leader pulled out fearing for the safety of his supporters.

In the elections, Mugabe lost the presidential elections to Tsvangirai after he garnered 43 percent of the vote, while the MDC front man amassed 47 percent, in the process failing to get the constitutionally required 50 percent plus one vote to take over power.

The election like any other was a subject to controversy and so was the 2013 election.

Fast-tracked to 2018, the elections have also been contested.

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa is challenging the outcome of the presidential elections. He has said he will use all the legal means necessary to challenge the results.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure, however said, this year’s elections were tightly contested and would not have allowed a landslide victory for any of the two popular contestants.

He said survey evidence had shown that the winner will win with a thin margin.

“I would have been shocked if Mnangagwa had garnered more than 54 percent of the votes. The percentage that he got is within the range of probability. However, the parliamentary seats results appear to have shocked many including myself. I had never thought Zanu PF would garner two-thirds majority,” he said.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have also raised the red flag on the 2018 election.

The CSOs that convened under the banner of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) and other stakeholders representing various interest groups in Zimbabwe, said the 2018 elections failed to pass the credibility test.

Among some of the issues raised by CSOs were the failure to release final voters’ roll before polling, mystery around V11 forms for presidential elections, deliberate displacement of voters, violations of the Traditional Leaders Act and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Zesn, a combination of 36 civil society organisations, also noted some irregularities with the 2018 election.

“Zec did not address concerns raised by stakeholders with regards to the design, printing, and dispatch of ballot papers and did not permit meaningful observation of the production of ballot papers or testing of indelible ink.

“The voters’ roll has improved from 2013; however urban registration lagged behind rural registration with 73 percent of people in urban areas registered to vote compared to 82 percent in rural areas.

“State media and other State resources were abused throughout the pre-election period to the advantage the ruling party,” the organisation said.


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