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Observers Raise Concerns Over Credibility Of Zimbabwe Elections



Observers Raise Concerns Over Credibility Of Zimbabwe Elections

The voting, which occurred on Wednesday and Thursday, was marred by delays and occurred in the midst of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.

Foreign election observers have raised serious doubts about the credibility of Zimbabwe’s presidential and legislative elections, stating that the process did not adhere to both regional and international standards.

The voting, which occurred on Wednesday and Thursday, was marred by delays and occurred in the midst of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.

Observers from both regional and international organizations have highlighted various concerns. These include the suppression of opposition rallies, refusal to accredit foreign media outlets, instances of voters’ names missing from polling station lists, biased state media coverage, and reports of voter intimidation.

Fabio Massimo Castaldo, the leader of the European Union’s observer mission, remarked that the election “fell short of many regional and international standards.” He underscored that the atmosphere of fear was fostered by violence and intimidation.

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Amina Mohamed, who headed the observer mission from the Commonwealth and hails from Kenya, acknowledged that the overall voting process was “conducted well and peacefully.” However, she noted that the election’s “credibility” and “transparency” were significantly affected by numerous issues.

Nevers Mumba, heading the delegation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), stated that some aspects of the election did not meet the requirements outlined in Zimbabwe’s constitution, electoral laws, and the SADC’s principles for democratic elections.

The election garnered significant attention throughout southern Africa as an indicator of support for 80-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF party.

The party’s lengthy rule of 43 years has been overshadowed by economic struggles and allegations of authoritarianism.

The voting process had to extend into an unprecedented second day due to delays in printing ballot papers, particularly in key districts like the opposition stronghold of Harare. The primary opposition, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), which posed a substantial challenge to Mnangagwa, had more than 100 campaign meetings banned and criticized the electoral process as “fundamentally flawed.”

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In Harare, an opposition stronghold, less than 25% of polling stations opened on time during the initial day of voting. This compelled Mnangagwa, who sought a second term, to extend the voting period through a late-night directive.

Rodney Kiwa, deputy chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, expressed confidence that results would be announced before the Tuesday deadline, despite the challenges.

Nelson Chamisa, leader of the CCC, decried the delays as a form of “voter suppression” and accused the election of being rigged. Chamisa, the primary contender against the 80-year-old Mnangagwa, rose to prominence after the 2017 coup that removed former ruler Robert Mugabe from power.

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In a concerning incident, 41 local monitors were arrested on election day, with their equipment confiscated by police who claimed the activity was “subversive and criminal.” These monitors, mainly individuals in their 20s and early 30s working for local pro-democracy NGOs, appeared in court following their arrest.

The arrest of these observers deepened apprehensions about the fairness of the election, as noted by the EU’s chief observer. Kealeboga Maphunye, an African studies professor at the University of South Africa, suggested that current indications pointed toward a disputed election during an online debate organized by the Southern African Liaison Office based in South Africa.

Buhari Olanrewaju Ahmed, a seasoned investigative journalist and climate/environmental reporter with a decade of experience, unravels complex issues and amplifies critical voices. His in-depth investigative work and insightful reporting have earned him recognition as a trusted source of information. Ahmed's unwavering commitment to journalism and exceptional storytelling prowess make him a standout figure in investigative journalism. His work drives meaningful conversations, influences policy decisions, and inspires collective efforts toward a sustainable future.

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