CIVIL society organisations have expressed concern over alleged electoral irregularities, including politicisation of food aid and traditional leaders meddling in politics, saying this would undermine the integrity of next week’s polls.
BY TALENT GUMPO
Habbakuk Trust, Christian Legal Society and Masakhaneni Trust, who are working on a joint election project, said their observers continued to note malpractices in the run-up to polls.
Addressing journalists in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Christian Legal Society executive director, Gerald Matiba, said: “Zimbabwe is set to hold its harmonised elections on July 30, yet still remains ambiguous and uncertain with regards to the conduct and management of the crucial electoral processes.
“The election has been characterised by events that have the propensity to undermine the integrity and secrecy of the process, including escalating pressure from the main opposition and civic society organisations.”
He said information gathered during the pre-election period points to continued abuse of government food aid and presidential inputs for political expediency since June as well as the partisan role played by traditional leaders in the election period, among other malpractices that threaten the fairness of the election.
“On Monday July 23 the observer mission witnessed a fertiliser distribution exercise under the presidential inputs scheme in Matobo ward 23 which was conducted at a councillor’s homestead.
“In Umzingwane district a social welfare food distribution programme was allegedly disrupted by a political party and the distribution was eventually done in two different places, instead of the usual point,” Matiba said.
Matiba said the traditional leaders were still reportedly acting as Zanu PF party agents who were used to mobilise people to attend political meetings.
“At a Plumtree rally which was addressed by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, five chiefs from Mangwe and Bulilima districts were in attendance and at a Filabusi rally they were two.
“Last week our observer mission attended a Zanu PF rally in Umzingwane district where a headman and a village head in ward 7 openly pledged their allegiance to the party,” Matiba said.
According to Matiba, the project has deployed long-term observers in Matobo, Bulawayo, Umzingwane and Gwanda where observers noted a number of other concerns which include defacing of rivals’ political posters, increase in hate speech, lack of inclusivity in the mainstream media, the role of the election commission, Zec’s transparency, among other concerns.