Report from the ZCTU on the Zimbabwe elections

(Z TU)
All correspondence should be
addressed to the Secretary General
Chester House
88 Speke Avenue
P.O. Box 3549
Fax: (263) – 4 – 728484
Tel: 793093/794742/794702
SINCE the disputed elections of 2008, Zi babwe has been run by a government of
National Unity (GNU)following a disputed ~lection whose mandate ranged from sorting
out the economic messy as well as to prepare the country for a credible election, an
undisputed free and fair election.
From the beginning, the Zimbabwe Congr ss of Trade Unions (ZCTU)believed that the
full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)was the key to holding free
and fair elections. The GPA provided key issues that needed to be implemented that
included national healing and reconciliation; observance of the rule of law; freedom of
expression, communication, assembly and association; free political activity, the role
of traditional leaders and the reform of the security sector. In other words, the GPA
set minimum conditions for holding a credible election.
Over the years Zimbabwe has failed to deliver a free and fair election. The election
process has to meet minimum standards for it to be credible. These include
international instruments such as:
a. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Rights:
b. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):
c. The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights emphasizes on the right
d. The SADCprinciples and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections
The ZCTU made it clear from the beginning that it will not accept a flawed election.
Free, fair and transparent elections are a necessary prerequisite for democracy. A
flawed election can cause political instability
Although the ZCTU together with the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network deployed
over 1000 election monitors, it also has been observing the political environment
before, during and after elections and this forms the basis of its opinion ..
Zimbabwe National Centre for the Labour Movement
The following are the observations by the Z TU on the 2013 Harmonised elections:
a. Draconian laws:
Draconian laws such as POSA and AIPPA remained in place going into an election
despite the fact that the GPA provided for the reform of these laws. These laws curtail
the people’s right to freedom of assembly, information and association
.b. Violence:
For the first time in many years, the elections were done in a peaceful environment.
Zimbabweans must be commended for their zero tolerance to violence in this election.
However, there were negligible reports of intra and interparty violence.
c. Freedom to campaign: j Political parties were able to campaign fre ly although under stringent laws like POSA
and AIPPA. In some areas voters shunne rallies of other political parties for fear of
reprisals and this shows that there could !ave been tacit intimidation going on.
c. Electoral Roll:
No credible elections can take place with voters’ roll in tatters. In fact an inaccurate
voters’ roll is a source of rigging electio s. The ZCTU notes with concern that the
voters’ roll used in the elections was ina curate and distorted. There were reports of
duplicate entries, voters enrolled in wro g constituencies and wards, eligible voters
being left off, and, dead persons. The voters’ roll was not made available to polling
agents, observers and political parties in time as stipulated by law.
c. Voter Registration:
The process should have been moved with speed and transparency. There are reports
of people who were frustrated whenever they want to register. Ideally, voter
registration should have been removed from the Registrar-General’s Office and taken
over by the ZEC. The ZCTU however, doubts the impartiality of ZEC officials.
c. Voter information and voter education:
The public has the right to all information on the voting process. This include
registration and place of voting. Civic organizations must be allowed to circulate
information to the public to help members of the public to make informed decisions.
Ideally, all material must be printed in all official local languages. Although there was
an attempt to do some form of voter education, this was very limited and the
educators were not visible at all. This could explain the reasons why there was high
number of people who were turned away due to lack of information.
d. Ballot Papers:
To avoid speculation of cheating, ZEC shou d have printed ballot papers equivalent to
registered voters and to disclose other suc information, for example the number of
ballot-boxes issued to each polling station.
e. The Voting process
The ZCTU received with concern that a nrmber of issues that put to question the
voting process:
• A number of voters were turned away for various reasons and this means many
people were disenfranchised (ZESN estimates 750 000 voters).
• It was frightening that Presiding officers resorted to phoning the Command
Centres (e.g in Epworth) to confirm the name of voters. This was open to abuse
by presiding officers
• , The arrests of people with fake voter registration slips means that there is a
possibility of thousands of fake voters having voted throughout the country and
this puts the credibility of elections into question.
• There were also reports of high n mbers of assisted voters and this raises
suspicion of intimidation.
• Village heads were reported to e leading voters in their areas, a clear
intimidation strategy.
f.The media environment
The mass media have an important rol to play, to a greater extent, in-between
election periods, in the run-up to the ele tion and during the election itself. Media in
Zimbabwe have been largely polarised ove the last 15 years.
The media in Zimbabwe is governed by a number of laws namely;
Broadcasting Services Act
Besides having a section on the media, the GPA also gave fruition to the Zimbabwe
Media Commission (ZMC) and under the Constitution of Zimbabwe, one of the major
functions of the Media Commission is “to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe have
equitable and wide access to information”.
In the period preceding the 2013 harmonised elections, the state controlled media
largely devoted most of their time and space to openly campaigning for ZANU PF. In
the state media’s quest to campaign for ZANU PF they had to employ the dirty tactic of
name calling, hate language and character assassination of mainly the Movement for
Democratic Change party and senior officials. A research done by the Media
Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) states that ‘hate language is endemic to the
Zimbabwean mainstream media particularly the state controlled arm of the media.’
The issue of hate language in state controlled media largely went unpunished despite
having a legal framework in place to curtail such acts. Section 61 subsection 5(a-d) of
the new Zimbabwe Constitution says:
‘Incitement to violence; advocacy of hatred or hate speech, or malicious injury to a
person’s reputation or dignity; or malicious or unwarranted breach of a person’s right
to privacy.’
Even the Criminal Law (Codification Reform) Act outlaws ‘criminal insult’ where any
person by words or conduct ‘seriously impairs the dignity of another person.’
For example in the month of June the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
says several cases in which inflammatory, offensive and intimidating language was
used. A total of 26 counts of such hate speech were recorded. The Herald recorded
most counts of messages of hatred and intolerance, 10 (38%), followed by the Daily
News with three (12%). The Daily News’ figure represented a 57% decrease from last
month’s seven counts. The Standard an NewsDay did not record any cases. The
national television station, ZTV recorded nine (35%) counts of hate language. One
stemmed from a news report and the rest rom its current affairs programmes, African
Pride, which was aired on June 20th at 6. 30pm. Preachers of the language of hatred
recorded in June 2013 mostly comprised influential people in society. These ranged
from politicians, state actors, journalists d media columnists, to political analysts.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDCparty were the most targeted group in
the government media. These media direc ed hate speech at Tsvangirai and his party
12 times. Ten (83%) of the 12 counts were churned out through the government Press,
while the remaining two were broadcast on ZTV.
In essence there was no equal access to electronic media as ZANU PF got most of
positive coverage. Even in instances where the MDC offered to pay for air time in the
form of advertisements, these advertisements never saw the light of day. The electorate
had to contend with biased unbalanced information. One of the contentious issues
that the MDCwas pushing before the elections, was that of reform of the media. The
parties to the GPAhad agreed this was essential before the country could hold a free,
fair and credible election. Just like the state sector reforms, media reforms were
resisted by ZANUPF hence the country went for this landmark election without the
g. The security forces:
The security forces must be as impartial as possible. Members of the security forces
must stay away from political parties’ campaign and must desist from uttering words
that may be deemed to intimidate or supportive of other political parties. In fact such
officers must be summarily be dismissed and disciplinary action taken against them.
While the ZCTU commends Zimbab~eans for a peaceful plebiscite, that alone carmot
be used to judge the freeness and fairness of an election. Among other shortcomings
earlier mentioned (including the failure to implement provisions of the GPA), the use of
voting slips that could be abused as ~wellas the non availability of the voters’ roll until
the eve of an election points to a sinister motive by those running the elections. The
ZCTU believes that the elections were stage managed and Zimbabweans were taken on
a garden path. .
On the basis of the above assess qnt, the ZCTU therefore concludes that the 2013
elections, besides lacking credibility w~ ere neither free nor fair.
~ ~—-L:::)
Japhet Moyo

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