Suspected election fraud in Zimbabwe: Our Observers explain

 
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 (MDC-T).
 
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”.
Contributors

"I know these people knew how to vote, many of them were old people who have been voting since 1980"

Philip Pasirayi is the Director of the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe. His organisation sent 60 observers, accredited by the Electoral Commission, to polling stations in Murehwa and Chegutu.
 
The majority of voters who came to the polling station I was observing, a primary school in Murehwa north constituency, arrived saying they didn’t know how to vote, so policemen and election officials helped them vote.
 
They were intimidated by Zanu-PF, who told them to say they didn’t know how to vote and needed assistance. Zanu-PF wanted to make sure they knew who was voting for who. If these people had gone in and voted on their own, they would’ve suffered and been further intimidated by Zanu-PF. I know these people knew how to vote, many of them were old people who have been voting since 1980.
 
Photo taken by CCZD Observer outside a polling station.
 
The police aren’t even allowed in polling stations, but they were everywhere! [Editor’s note: The 2012 Electoral Act states police officers  “shall have the sole functions of maintaining order” and not interfere “with the electoral process at the polling stations”. During the 2008 elections the opposition and human rights groups accused police officers at polling stations of intimidating voters].
 
Nearby the polling stations there were Zanu-PF camps. The voters went in with their fingers dyed in indelible ink, they said they had voted for Zanu-PF, to show they’re loyal to Mugabe.
 
Photo taken by CCZD Observer inside a polling station, with a police officer in the background on the right.

"It was impossible to check the voter list to find irregularities"

Kevin is a consultant for several different human rights organisations.
 
It’s so important that an updated electoral role is published for everyone to see, so we can know who is voting where. An electronic roll from 2008 is available on the Internet, but it’s completely out-of-date. There are names of dead people on it, and some people may find their names appear once, twice, even three times. The Electoral Commission only made the updated version of the electoral role available two hours before voting closed. So it was impossible to check the voter list to find irregularities.
 
 

This article was written with France 24 journalist Claire Williams (clairewf24)

Comments

Common sense

Common sense would tell a person that if someone who had previously won convincingly were to lose, they would do so gradually as people are gradually convinced to disagree with his opinion. In the Zimbabwean case however, it was like moving from one side of the coin to the other. I don't need to be einstein to know rigging when i see it.

The majority of Zimbabweans

The majority of Zimbabweans speak Shona, including those living in Bulawayo. If Mr Biti chose to speak in English for the benefit of his journalist entourage, he must not conclude the other parties could not understand or speak Shona or English. The parties seemed to disapprove of being filmed - which was not allowed at the polling station I voted at. They could be a Seal Team in Training at Honde Valley and not keen to be identified. Please Mr Biti - give the world a break from your rushed conclusions. We breathe a sigh of relief knowing we are soon to be rid of you from Government.

I guess being on the voters

I guess being on the voters roll mean you can cast a vote even if you are dead. What is the fuss about ineligible people being on the voters' roll?

ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS

The MDC-T basked in past glory and left it until too late. They started talking of rigging as early as last year before the election date was set. Are the elections flawed because the blue eyed boy lost. Does the MDC-T think that people are gullible to believe that the West had plane loads of money for them. Why did the West not give the MDC-T the money to develop the constituencies they had won during 2008. How genuine is Biti's video. What were the people not arrested? Biti's camp won the elections and it has now been proved that Biti wants to takeover leadership from Morgan.

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