IRREGULARITIES and claims of vote rigging during the Zanu PF primary elections do not inspire confidence in the country’s electoral systems ahead of general elections later this year, a peace lobby group has said.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), while applauding Zanu PF for the effort to entrench internal democracy, said it was worried that violence and other electoral ills might reappear during the harmonised elections.
“ZPP applauds the ruling party in its bid to strengthen internal democracy. However, [ZPP] recorded worrying trends (that) may recur during national elections due in a few months. The overly competitive environment in which the primary elections are being contested using the ‘winner takes all system’ have potential to exacerbate sources of conflict. Flawed and contested election outcomes may set the stage for bloody harmonised elections,” the lobby group said.
ZPP cited the late delivery of voting material across the country, technical and procedural inefficiencies as well as general irregularities as cases in point.
The group said it was interested in the Zanu PF internal process because this might have a bearing on the country’s general elections.
ZPP added that cases of violence and accusations of vote rigging bode ill for the much-awaited general elections.
“As the country continues to edge closer to elections, the ZPP continues to watch all elections with a view to zero tolerance to conflict and violent conflict before during and after the elections. The ZPP continues to remind political parties about their responsibilities in contributing to peaceful elections and the commitments they made when they signed the code of conduct,” the statement read.
ZPP also said it was “disturbed” by reports that Zanu PF was using State resources for its internal processes.
“If the resources have been hired from the State, it might be in the interest of transparency to declare this position to the electorate,” the peace lobby group said.
Zimbabwe’s elections since independence from Britain 38 years ago have been characterised by violence, but President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been preaching peace and undertaken to deliver the country’s first credible poll.
Mnangagwa took over from Robert Mugabe on the back of a military intervention last November.
Mugabe was widely accused of human rights abuses and in 2008, after losing the first round of voting to the late MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, he forced through a bloody run-off in which an estimated 300 opposition activists were murdered or disappeared without trace.
The outcome was rejected at home and abroad, forcing Mugabe into an uneasy coalition with Tsvangirai that ended with the 2013 general elections won convincingly by Zanu PF amid accusations of rigging from the opposition.