ZEC “cooking” the results of Zimbabwe’s first post-Mugabe elections?

MDC supporters of David Coltart outside Nketa Community Hall, Bulawayo, in the run up to the March 2005 Parliamentary General Election. Photo credit: David Coltart via Flickr.

By Obert Madondo |  | Jul 31, 2018

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”.

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.

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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.

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.

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 ProgressiveZimbabwean Progressive, and Charity Files. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad

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