Zimbabwe Election: Concerns Over Vote Rigging and Violence Threaten Democratic Process

The upcoming Zimbabwe election, set to take place on Wednesday, is being overshadowed by concerns of vote rigging and violence. The election is the first since the death of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the candidate of the ruling Zanu-PF party, is being challenged by Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and nine other contenders. However, there are growing fears that the ruling party will rig the election to maintain its hold on power, as it has been accused of doing in the past. Human rights groups have also reported an increase in threats, intimidation, and violence, most of which are attributed to Zanu-PF supporters. These issues raise concerns about the fairness and credibility of the election, as well as the future of democracy in Zimbabwe.

One of the main concerns is the allegation of vote rigging. The ruling party has persistently denied these allegations, but small online civic society groups like Team Pachedu are mobilizing to protect the vote. They are using an app called Mandla to monitor “hotspots” where they believe the ruling party may try to take advantage. The app allows them to track election results data as they come out of the polling stations and compare them with the official results. However, it remains to be seen how effective this monitoring will be in preventing vote rigging.

Violence and intimidation are also on the rise in the run-up to the election. Zimbabwe Peace Project has recorded 84 violations in the first two weeks of August, including the death of an opposition supporter during an ambush. Human rights groups have accused Zanu-PF of being complicit in these acts, while the party has distanced itself from the violence. The police have also been accused of violently breaking up and banning opposition rallies. These incidents not only undermine the credibility of the election but also raise concerns about the safety and security of voters.

Media coverage of the election has also been a point of contention. The Media Monitoring Project reports that Zanu-PF has received significantly more coverage compared to the opposition CCC. This imbalance in media coverage affects the ability of opposition candidates to reach voters and convey their message, compromising the fairness of the election. Moreover, there have been numerous court cases related to the disqualification of opposition candidates, further casting doubt on the integrity of the electoral process.

Another issue is the alleged manipulation of the voters’ roll. Activist monitoring groups have identified glaring anomalies in the voters’ roll, with millions of people being shifted from their traditional voting areas in opposition strongholds. This raises concerns about gerrymandering and the potential for the ruling party to manipulate the election results by moving voters to more favorable areas.

The high cost of living and lack of opportunities are central issues in the election campaign. Chamisa’s manifesto promises to restore opportunities and hope by tackling corruption, providing free education, and scrap the volatile local currency. On the other hand, President Mnangagwa points to the investments in mining, agriculture, and infrastructure as evidence of progress. However, inflation has soared to over 100% under his leadership, and he has been criticized for introducing repressive legislation and jailing critics.

Observers have raised concerns about the accreditation process for international journalists, with several media outlets being denied access to cover the election. This has sparked condemnation and raised questions about the transparency and openness of the electoral process. However, President Mnangagwa has urged observers to come with an open mind and has emphasized that Zimbabweans fought for their democracy and will protect it.

In conclusion, the upcoming Zimbabwe election is marred by concerns over vote rigging, violence, media coverage imbalance, and manipulation of the voters’ roll. These issues threaten the democratic process and the credibility of the results. The international community will be closely watching the election and its aftermath to assess the future of democracy in Zimbabwe and the possibility of positive change for the country.