On Monday, Zimbabweans voted in the Southern African country’s first elections without Robert Mugabe on the ballot. As vote counting started Tuesday, the opposition MDC Alliance declared victory for its presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa. The celebrations might just turn out to be premature.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the “independent” body constitutionally mandated to manage Zimbabwean elections and referendums, has delayed its announcement of the final results, raising fears that the commission is trying to manufacture victory for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ruling Zanu PF party’s presidential candidate. Mnangagwa, 75, who used “to bide his time before suddenly crunching Mr Mugabe’s enemies“, grabbed power last November through a military coup that toppled Mugabe after 37 years of bloodstained rule.
Concerns that ZEC’s unheralded delayed announcement of the outcome of the 2018 harmonized elections is part of a rigging plot are justified.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), an independent election monitor, reported Tuesday that 21% of polling stations did not post V11 forms outside polling stations as required by law. Section 64 of Electoral Act states that a record of election results must be posted “outside the polling station so that it is visible to the public”.
ZESN have just produced a report which states that in 21% of polling stations no V11 was posted outside with the Presidential results on it as required by section 64(1)(e) of the Electoral Act. If true this will be a serious violation of the law…. https://t.co/dI9jzYWgLA
— David Coltart (@DavidColtart) July 31, 2018
Independent election monitors say 21% of polling stations in Zimbabwe election did not post results immediately as required by law – the MDC Alliance accuses the electoral commission/government of ‘cooking the books’…
— John Sparks (@sparkomat) July 31, 2018
A ruling party which is confident and in control of the state machinery would not take a whole night and day before letting the world know that it has won by ensuring official results are announced. There’s a clear effort to manage and resist an unfavourable outcome #ElectionsZW
— Alex T Magaisa 🇿🇼 (@Wamagaisa) July 31, 2018
It’s illegal, as ZESN’s report presented at the last ZEC presser shows, that in 21% of polling stations, no V11 form was posted outside with Presidential results as per s64(1)(e) of the Electoral Act. It means no valid presidential election took place in 21% of polling stations!
— Prof Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo) July 31, 2018
“The media is still waiting for the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Priscilla Chigumba to announce the election results”. Such delays are harmful. Chairperson still being briefed by army? #ZimbabweDecides2018 #Zimbabwe
— Peter Mansfield (@Peterman43) July 31, 2018
That ZEC chose not to post 21% of V11 forms on all polling stations is a stark attestation of electoral fraud. The merchants of electoral fraud are at it again and they must never be allowed to run away with the people’s victory. @nelsonchamisa won this election.
— Patson Dzamara (@PatsonDzamara) July 31, 2018
Non-displayal of 21% of VII forms may seem minor, but that’s about 2300 polling stations which could account for the votes of some 1,200,000 voters…. #ZimbabweDecides2018
— Dr Sara Rich Dorman (@afr_pol) July 31, 2018
Throughout the election season, opposition and rights activists accused ZEC of bedding the ruling Zanu PF party, the military, and the state. Retired military officers constitute 15% of the commission’s staff.
Later on Tuesday, a coalition of Zimbabwean civil society organizations released a statement stating that the 2018 elections fell “short of a credible election”.
“It is in the public domain that over the years, Zanu PF has sought to win elections at all costs and the issue of the V11 forms, coupled with reports of the party’s activists trying to steal ballot papers at some polling stations around the country is clear testimony that this election is yet another charade that does not in any way subscribe to the tenets of democratic elections,” said Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in its statement.
The Mnangagwa regime appears to be preparing to quell post election protests through disproportionate militarized police force. Images posted on social media Tuesday afternoon showed police tanks being deployed in Harare, an opposition stronghold.
Army tanks being deployed in #Zimbabwe? Can anyone else corroborate? If so, this move isn’t exactly an indication of a ruling party confident that they’ve earned the endorsement of the citizenry. #ElectionsZW https://t.co/kj7wor0yDl
— Jeffrey Smith (@Smith_JeffreyT) July 31, 2018
Zimbabwe’s partisan and politicized military leadership has always been against a non-Zanu PF president.
2008 presidential election
Alex Magaisa, a law lecturer at the University of Kent in the UK, sees parallels with Zanu PF’s stealing of the 2008 presidential election.
It’s like 2008 all over again, claims of “meticulous verification” delaying the processs while massaging the results. From the information available, Chamisa has won even in constituencies which have been won by ZANU PF. The system is obviously resisting this outcome.
— Alex T Magaisa 🇿🇼 (@Wamagaisa) July 31, 2018
During the 2008 election, the late Morgan Tsvangirai trounced Mugabe. ZEC deliberately withheld the results for a month, only to announce that there was no clear winner. Mnangagwa, then Mugabe’s election agent, teamed up with the security forces and sabotaged the runoff. More than 200 opposition supporters were murdered in retribution.
Then the military threatened to unleash even more violence against the opposition. Fearing for the safety of his supporters, Tsvangirai pulled out of the runoff. That’s how Mugabe, Mnangagwa and the security forces stole the 2008 presidential election.
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based blogger, activist, photographer, digital rights enthusiast, former political aide, and former international development administrator. He’s the founder and editor of these blogs: The Canadian Progressive, Zimbabwean Progressive, and Charity Files. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad
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