Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) commends the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for its efforts in ensuring that over 5 million voters register in Zimbabwe against a target of 7 million in the ongoing voter registration exercise. While the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) blitz came to an end on the 8th of February, Zimbabweans will continue to register to vote at the 73 ZEC district offices in Zimbabwe.
We take note and commend civil society for ensuring that a significant number of Zimbabweans have access to objective voter registration information and resultantly registered to vote.
CiZC would like to put it to the attention of the Executive and ZEC that the credibility of the 2018 elections will only be possible after related electoral reforms such as the alignment of the Electoral Act to the Constitution, a demilitarized and independent ZEC, free access to media for election stakeholders, respect for fundamental political freedoms for all, tolerance of diverging views and an electoral code of conduct are implemented forthwith.
There is sufficient evidence of political violence (both physical and emotional) occurring in Zimbabwe during the voter registration exercise and this raises our fears on the possibility of an election that will be marred with violence and intimidation of the electorate. We take great exception of the following worrying developments:
- The recent attacks on opposition political activists and leaders belonging to the National People’s Party in Glenview and Glen Norah, cases of arson in Epworth and violence waged against members of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zaka East.
- The pronouncement by the President of Chiefs, Chief Charumbira that traditional leaders will campaign for the ruling party – a violation of the Constitution
- Intimidation of the electorate with members of the ruling party ordering citizens to submit their voter registration slips serial numbers to party functionaries.
- Threats of violence reminiscent of the June 2008 election farce following ZANU PF political commissar Engelbert Rugeje’s statement that Zimbabwe will slide to 2008 unless if it votes ZANUPF.
- Hate speech that is dominating political parties’ rallies with words such as “zvimbwasungata” and “mhandu” that are likely to raise tensions among supporters of political parties.
- The barring of civil society from some rural wards to carryout voter registration campaigns.
- Vote buying – where the ruling party is reportedly denying food aid to suspected supporters of the opposition in Masvingo province.
- The threat of the military campaigning for the ruling party, ZANU PF, following the Presidential Advisor’s sentiments that the military will campaign for ZANU PF in the coming elections.
In light of these developments we call for restraint among election stakeholders, observance of the rule of law and upholding the sanctity of the Constitution and call upon the Zimbabwe Election Commission to urgently draft and implement a Code of Conduct for Election Stakeholders that will enforce conditions necessary for the conduct of credible, free and fair elections. We also challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa to stand by his words and ensure that the country witnesses a credible, free and fair election in 2018 that will bring finality to the state legitimacy crisis in Zimbabwe.
It is our conviction that following the military coup of 15 November 2017, Zimbabwe should be given a credible opportunity to return to its constitutional order through a credible, free and fair election.