The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has issued a hard hitting report in which they accused Zimbabwe President, ED Mnangagwa of rigging the 2023 elections.
Please read the full report below:ZHRC-Election-Observation-and-Monitoring-Report-on-the-2023-Harmonised-Elections-Final1
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) monitored the human rights situation and observed the 2023 harmonized elections held on the 23rd and extended to the 24th of August 2023 in some parts of the country. The primary objective of the monitoring and observations by ZHRC was to ensure that the elections were conducted in accordance with national, regional and international standards and guidelines to contribute towards free, fair and credible elections.
This report presents ZHRC’s findings on the human rights situation in the country before, during and after the elections. The report also reflects upon the policy, legal framework as well as regional and international standards relating to the electoral process, electoral environment, voter registration, the delimitation exercise, voter education, political party activities, media coverage and incidents of electoral malpractices. Furthermore, the monitoring and observation missions conducted by ZHRC assessed the participation of vulnerable and special interest groups (women, children, youth, elderly and persons with disabilities) in the electoral processes.
A total of eleven (11) candidates contested for the Presidency, only one (1) being a female candidate. However, the contest was mainly between the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) political parties. The elections were conducted after a nationwide delimitation exercise that was carried out by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) the report of which was gazetted on the 20th of February 20231. This process resulted in some changes to the boundaries of Constituencies and Wards, as well as changes in the number of Constituencies per Province.
ZHRC noted the involvement of Affiliate Groups during the 2023 Harmonised elections. These included Team Pachedu2, Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ)3 and the Zimbabwe Heritage Trust (ZHT)4, among others. It was evident throughout the whole electoral cycle that these Affiliate Organisations had significant influence in the electoral processes.
The media coverage for the 2023 elections was polarised. The public media (electronic and print) by and large, reported more in favour of the ruling party whilst the private media reported more favourably on opposition political party activities. There was evidence of more traffic on different social media platforms, and this had become an alternative major source of information for the electorate.
The environment preceding the 2023 Harmonised elections was generally peaceful and calm. Despite the foregoing, ZHRC continued to receive cases of violation of civil and political rights, including, intimidations, coercion and threats among others. Such incidents allegedly instilled fear in some of the electorate thereby infringing on the political rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
The pre-election period was also characterised by a number of court cases relating to the qualification of candidates contesting for different positions, including for presidency. The nomination fees for the Presidential and National Assembly and Local Authority positions were increased and were beyond the reach of some contestants, particularly women. It is believed that the high fees acted as a deterrent to chancers who would have jumped on board like they did in the previous election of 2028, where there were 23 Presidential Candidates.
In some Constituencies, the elections were characterised by logistical and technical glitches, such as late delivery of voting materials to polling stations. In order to adhere to the 12 hour voting period prescribed by the law, affected polling stations were allowed to compensate for lost time, caused by either late opening of polling stations or running out of ballot papers. As a result, voting extended into the following day, which was 24th of August 2023. These challenges inconvenienced some citizens and most likely affected their right to vote. Of concern was that some affected polling stations were mostly open during the night, making it difficult for vulnerable groups such as women and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to visit such polling stations and cast their vote.
ZHRC however, noted that most polling stations were accessible, and voting procedures were being adhered to earnestly by the polling officials. At most polling stations that opened at 7AM, the voting process was efficiently conducted and concluded, within the stipulated time. However, allegations of intimidation, organised voting, conflation of roles by some traditional leaders who doubled up as political agents; and practices of conducting exit poll surveys, might have compromised secrecy of the ballot.
The results of the polls were announced within the prescribed time. However, the credibility of the elections, processes and the outcome was disputed by some participating political parties such as CCC and United Zimbabwe Alliance (UZA). This resulted in tension in the country, and isolated incidences of violence being recorded.
Besides focusing on findings of the human rights situation, before, during and after the elections, the Report also proffers recommendations to various stakeholders involved in the electoral processes.