As results for Zimbabwe’s elections trickle in, so do allegations of widespread electoral fraud in favour of President Robert Mugabe’s bid to extend his 33-year presidency. Even before official results are released, Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party has declared a landslide victory in both the presidential and parliamentary elections.
While officials from non-African countries were largely banned from monitoring the vote, France 24 spoke to representatives and observers from Zimbabwean organisations who described the techniques they believe have been used to prevent a win for Mugabe’s main challenger, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change
Morgan Tsvangirai won the first-round
of presidential elections in 2008. But after 200 MDC-T supporters were killed in post-election violence, Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round. Following negotiations with numerous regional bodies and leaders, the two men agreed to an uneasy coalition deal with Mugabe as President and Tsvangirai as Prime Minister.
Three Zimbabwean election observers told France 24 they saw hundreds of voters from rural areas claim they did not how to vote because they were illiterate, while policemen and polling officials came across especially keen to give them a hand.
Video allegedly showing busloads of youths arrive at Mount Pleasant polling station in Harare.
Another fraud technique appears to have been captured on video: footage allegedly shows busloads of youths arriving at a polling station at Mount Pleasant, in Harare. The footage shows the youths running off a bus, hiding their faces from the camera.
Screenshot of video showing a youth leaving the bus, hiding his face from the camera.
The MDC-T Secretary General and MP for the constituency, Tendai Biti, found out about the new arrivals and headed down to the polling station. In the amateur footage, he can be heard exclaiming: “This is not on, this is blatant cheating”.
Screenshot of video showing Tendai Biti [on left] asking where the youths were from.
When Biti asks a man, allegedly the bus driver, where the people are from he responds: “It’s not a secret, but we’re not allowed to say that”. In the window of the bus there is a sign for Honde Valley, suggesting the bus came from the border area between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, over 300km from Harare.
Screenshot of video showing a bus with a Honde Valley sign in the window.
The video was uploaded onto the Vimeo account belonging to Zimages
, a group claiming to be “an independent source of news from Zimbabwe” which “aims to provide people with a fair and balanced picture of events”. It was most likely filmed by an MDC-T supporter.
Tendai Biti told France 24: "The youths couldn’t speak Shona or English [Editor's note: Shona is the local language]. So they were definitely not from Harare. We’ll take the electoral commission to court so their ballots are disqualified. But the problem is, the commission is in the hands of Zanu-PF”. Contacted by France 24, Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the elections were “absolutely fair, free and credible”. He also said he suspected Biti had recruited the youths himself to discredit the poll and claim fraud: “I don’t believe they were Zanu-PF, I believe they were Biti’s youths”.