Zimbabwe Elections Lack Credibility

Washington

Flaws in the process leading up to general elections in Zimbabwe call into question the elections’ credibility, according to Freedom House. Tomorrow, Zimbabwe will hold its first election since the violent 2008 elections that left more than 200 people dead and led to the signature of the Global Political Agreement, creating Zimbabwe’s power-sharing Government of National Unity.

“Elections are a process – not an event – and their credibility hinges on what happens before Election Day and what takes place afterwards. Unfortunately, the election process so far has been marred by the absence of much-needed electoral reforms, problems with voter registration, and political intimidation and violence,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa programs at Freedom House. “These violations, documented and reported by our partners on the ground, raise serious doubts whether the upcoming elections will truly reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

The regionally-brokered Global Political Agreement called for major political reforms, including a new constitution, a professionalized security sector, open operating space for civil society, and prevention of political violence. While a new constitution was passed by referendum in March 2013, the other key reforms have stalled. Moreover, the pre-election period has been characterized by rigged voter registration and widespread intimidation.

While the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) will monitor the polls, the United States and European Union were not invited to observe the elections.

“Democratic countries must acknowledge that a pre-election period fraught with intimidation and violence cannot produce credible elections, and SADC and AU monitors need to apply international standards in assessing these elections. The absence of violence on Election Day isn’t enough to make these elections credible,” said Petrovic.  “The international community must do its part to hold the government of Zimbabwe and individual perpetrators to account for violence and intimidation.”

Freedom House has worked in Zimbabwe since 2006 with over 60 civil society organizations promoting democratic governance.

Zimbabwe is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House’s annual global survey of political rights and civil liberties, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2013 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2012.

To learn more about Zimbabwe, visit:

Freedom in the World 2013: Zimbabwe

Freedom of the Press 2013: Zimbabwe

Freedom on the Net 2012: Zimbabwe

Countries at the Crossroads 2012: Zimbabwe

Blog: Zimbabwe by the Numbers

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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