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Zimbabwe: Election Fraud Report

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Apr 18, 2005 (050418)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

A new report from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe, released on April 12, has presented detailed evidence of bias and outright fraud in the March 31 elections. In particular, the report details allegations of ballot-stuffing sufficient to change election results in at least 20 constituencies. This would shift the balance of directly elected seats from 78-41 in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF to 61-58 in favor of the MDC.

Although the MDC is presenting its findings to the official Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, no one expects the official results to change. However, even South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has tended to dismiss criticism of the elections, acknowledged last week that the discrepancies did need to be considered. A final report from the non-governmental Zimbabwe Election Support Network has also reportedly been completed, and is likely to raise similar issues. If these receive no convincing answer from the Zimbabwean authorities, the credibility of the election results, already low, will be further undermined in the region as well as internationally.

Initial observer reports from the elections followed predictable patterns. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) official observer mission cited "peaceful, credible, well managed and transparent elections," and the official South African delegation concluded that the elections reflected "the will of the people." Observers from the African Union, the All Africa Conference of Churches, and others, however, echoed the view of the local Zimbabwe Election Support Network that despite the reduction in violence and general calm, there were many grounds for concern and discrepancies to be explained.

While the MDC report details many reasons to conclude the elections were not free and fair, the key quantitative data presented is based on the suspected addition of "ghost voters" in rural constituencies to the count after the polls close. As described in an April 5 report on the Sokwanele website
http://www.sokwanele.com/articles/sokwanele/whathappenedonthursnight_5april2005.html
after the polls closed the electoral commission announced the total number of votes cast in 72 constituencies. But then counting was delayed, observers were blocked from observing the count, and the final figures in 30 constituencies presented the next day for each party added up to quite different totals.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from the MDC election report and a link to the full report available at http://www.zwnews.com

For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletins on Zimbabwe and additional background links, visit
http://www.africafocus.org/country/zimbabwe.php

Other reports on the March 31 election are available at http://www.kubatana.net. There are extensive current news reports on http://www.zwnews.com and http://www.zimbabwesituation.com .

For the latest musical and political statement by Zimbabwean musician Thomas Mapfumo, including music downloads from the justreleased album "Rise Up", see http://thomasmapfumo.afropopshop.org.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Stolen: How the Elections were Rigged
MDC Report on the March 2005 Parliamentary Elections

12 April 2005

[excerpts here include executive summary and chapter 8 on discrepancies in the final results. The full report in Word format, along with a Excel table presenting the detailed data on discrepancies, is available at
http://www.zwnews.com/issuefull.cfm?ArticleID=11686]

1 Executive Summary

Periodic and genuine democratic elections are the cornerstone of any functioning democracy. Zimbabwe does have periodic elections but they are not democratic.

The March 2005 parliamentary elections cannot be judged to be free and fair nor can they be deemed an accurate reflection of the will of the Zimbabwean people. The distorted nature of the pre-election playing field and the failure to address core democratic deficits, in the context of both the legal and administrative framework, and the political environment, precluded a free and fair election from the very beginning.

The determination of the Zanu PF government to manipulate the electoral process and to eschew the need to ensure adequate levels of transparency and fairness led to them breaching their own rules on polling day. They were determined to have a system in place with sufficient capacity to enable them to rig the ballot in the event that initial voting trends indicated an MDC victory.

The MDC participated in the elections under protest. More than 133,000 voters attempted to participate on election day but were turned away. Unknown thousands of voters were either added or subtracted from vote tallies in 72 of 120 constituencies where figures were made available by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). We still have received no explanation from the ZEC for the serious inconsistencies in the ZEC's own figures.

  • ZEC must supply the polling station returns (Form V11) for independent audit.
  • ZEC must supply a copy of the voters roll in electronic format.

MDC agreed to participate on the basis that the prevailing view amongst our structures and supporters on the ground was in favour of participation. The issue of our participation, however, does not confer legitimacy on the result. If the MDC had won the elections, and secured a parliamentary majority, it would have been a testament to the courage and determination of the people of Zimbabwe to overcome the nefarious obstacles deliberately placed by Mugabe and Zanu PF to frustrate their collective desire for a new beginning and a new Zimbabwe.

The electoral reforms introduced by the Zimbabwe Government were woefully inadequate and failed to ensure that Zimbabwe's electoral framework and political environment adhered to the new democratic benchmarks encapsulated in the SADC Protocol On Guidelines and Principles Governing Democratic Elections.

This report provides compelling evidence to substantiate the MDC's position that the elections cannot be judged free and fair.

Chapter Two exposes the fallacy of claims that the electoral process was managed and run by 'impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies'. Those who pronounce such claims site the role of the new 'independent' electoral commission.

The new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), as an institution, failed to demonstrate its independence. Its chair, Justice Chiweshe, was directly appointed by President Mugabe, without consultation, and failed to discharge his duties in an impartial manner. Moreover, the ZEC was established too late in the day to have any meaningful role in the management of the electoral process. By the time it was officially established most of its core duties, such as voter registration and the compilation of the voters' roll, had already been carried out.

The elections were managed and run by the same institutions that presided over the wholesale rigging and subversion of the electoral process in the 2000 parliamentary elections and 2002 presidential elections. Nothing had changed.

It is important to note, however, that the MDC retains a degree of confidence in the ability of the four ZEC commissioners, appointed upon the recommendations of Parliament. We believe that their task has been made impossible by the Commission chair and the staff seconded to the Commission. Given the irregularities that have occurred, in particular the discrepancies in a large number of constituencies between voter turnout and final totals, the onus is now firmly on these commissioners to demonstrate their independence, fairness and integrity in unequivocal terms.

Chapter Three outlines how the administrative processes for the elections were manipulated to secure political advantage for the ruling party. The voter registration exercise was carried out in a discriminatory manner under the directions and guidance of the Registrar General who openly supports Zanu PF. Thousands of people in urban areas (especially the youth), perceived MDC strongholds, were disenfranchised through gratuitous proof of residency requirements. Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean citizens outside the country were denied their legitimate right to vote, while the notorious Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act prevented thousands of Zimbabweans, whose descendents came from other southern African countries, from registering to vote.

The voters' roll used for the elections was a shambles. It was inaccurate and grossly inflated. The MDC was denied access to the electronic copy but was eventually given a hard copy. Data extrapolated from an audit of 10% of the roll indicated that there were over one million dead people on the roll. The names of MDC activists who have been killed were still on the voters' roll. The names of thousands of people who have left the country in the past few years, and who were denied their moral right to vote, are still on the roll. This created tremendous capacity for 'ballot stuffing', especially when one considers that members of the military, the ruling party or the intelligence service (CIO) were in charge of a large number of polling stations.

The delineation of constituency boundaries by the Mugabe appointed Delimitation Commission resulted in Harare and Bulawayo losing two constituencies each. Three new constituencies were created in areas perceived to be pro-Zanu PF. The MDC had technically lost three seats before a single ballot had been cast.

The allocation and location of polling stations was again a clear attempt to boost the electoral chances of the ruling party. A disproportionate number of polling stations were allocated to rural areas compared to urban areas. Moreover, a number of polling stations were located at the homesteads of local headmen renowned for their support for the ruling party.

Chapter Four illustrates the extent to which voters were unable to access the wide variety of information necessary to make an informed choice at the ballot box. Legislative curbs on a free press, and a flagrant lack of equal access to the state controlled media, severely restricted the free flow of information and ideas to the electorate, especially in rural areas. In this context, the situation was worse than in the 2002 presidential poll.

Chapter Five describes the hostile political conditions on the ground, which remained prevalent throughout the campaign period, and details the extent to which the law enforcement agencies and traditional leaders were firmly harnessed to the campaign agenda of the ruling party.

MDC rallies and meetings continued to be banned under the Public Order and Security Act. Not a single Zanu PF rally was banned. While the MDC was obliged to comply with Section 24 of this Act and provide police with notification of rallies/meetings four days in advance, this did not apply to Zanu PF; it was free to hold public meetings and rallies without police notification or permission.

While political violence was lower compared to the 2000 and 2002 elections it still remained at unacceptable levels. For this election, however, Zanu PF did not really have much need to encourage its supporters to go out and beat the electorate into submission. Five years of terror and violence has had a severe psychological impact on the electorate, especially in rural areas. People fear retribution if they freely express their political preferences. This psychological impact enabled Zanu PF to engage in slightly more subtle techniques to coerce and intimidate the electorate, as this chapter clearly demonstrates.

Chapters Seven and Eight demonstrate the extent to which Zanu PF breached the very rules that it had introduced to improve the transparency and fairness of technical and administrative procedures on polling day. These two chapters also underline the abject failure of ZEC to demonstrate its independence from the ruling party. Numerous incidents were recorded in rural areas of local Zanu PF officials, headmen or CIO officials acting as ZEC representatives at polling stations. This would have had a massive negative impact on the voters at polling stations where this occurred. Chapter 8 in particular details the unaccountable gaps in certain constituencies between the turnout figures announced by ZEC and the final results announced by the same body hours later. These discrepancies were facilitated by the deliberate and systematic breaches of the Electoral Act during election day.

These discrepancies, along with many others, were reported to the various observer missions. The MDC remains deeply concerned that despite the weight of evidence available, the various observer missions invited by President Mugabe to observe the election process continue to claim that the MDC has no evidence to back up its allegations of electoral malpractice. As this report clearly demonstrates, this is not the case. Observer missions have been provided with evidence of numerous allegations of malpractice yet do not appear to have carried out full investigations.

We are concerned that they have spent too much time in urban areas and not sufficient time in rural areas, where most irregularities occurred.

The MDC received assurances from all the observer missions that they would conduct their duties in a fair, impartial and transparent manner. We were assured that their final reports would be based on an objective assessment and analysis of the situation on the ground.

Comments during the election period by senior South African officials mandated to observe the elections, raised suspicions that South Africa, from the very beginning, was bent on declaring the results a 'legitimate expression of the will of the people', regardless of the scale and extent to which the liberation principle of one person, one vote was subverted.

We are therefore not surprised that the SA Observer team was the first to declare the elections free and fair.

It is the MDC's view that the findings in this report demonstrate in unequivocal terms that the huge irregularities that occurred in both the pre-election period and on polling day itself, make it impossible to judge the elections as free and fair.

The will of the people has not prevailed. This is a serious setback for the democratization process in Zimbabwe and provides further confirmation of the extent to which Zanu PF has become detached from the principles that guided our liberation struggle.

The final chapter, chapter nine, sets out the political and electoral reforms that will be necessary to ensure that future elections in Zimbabwe are free and fair and produce outcomes that accurately reflect the sovereign wishes of the people.


8. The Final Results: Discrepancies

Investigations and anlaysis by the MDC has revealed that in 30 constituencies (see list below) in the provinces of Manicaland, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Matabeleland South there are serious and unaccountable gaps between the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) official pronouncements on the number of votes cast and the final totals accorded to each candidate. This indicates massive fraud in which the ZEC appears complicit.

At present the MDC is unable to carry out an analysis of the accuracy of the number of votes cast in constituencies in Mashonaland Central, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Midlands North and Midlands South as the ZEC refuses to release these figures. The ZEC's refusal to release these figures indicates widespread irregularities.

Where the MDC was widely predicted to regain seats, such as in Harare and Bulawayo, very few discrepancies were identified. This raises further suspicions that there was a calculated plan to ensure that the MDC won a sufficient number of seats to provide the electoral process with a veneer of legitimacy. While little attempt was made to deny the MDC victory in key urban areas it is clear that all stops were pulled out to ensure the MDC made few gains elsewhere.

In 11 constituencies (Kariba, Manyame, Goromonzi, Murehwa South, Mutoko North, Seke Rural, Buhera South, Mutare South, Mutasa South, Mutasa North and Nyanga) the deficits between the ZEC's official pronouncement on the number of votes cast and the final total directly account for the Zanu PF 'victories'. In most of these constituencies the Zanu PF candidate was either a senior party official or a Government Minister

This analysis does not even take into account the uneven electoral playing field, the inflated voters' roll, the coercion of the rural electorate, nor the high number of people who were turned away on polling day.

Examples

  1. Manyame: ZEC announced the total votes cast as being 14 812. The MDC candidate polled 8 312 votes, meaning she had an unassailable lead. However, when results were finally announced the winning Zanu PF candidate was reported to have received 15 448 votes, with 543 ballots spoilt. The total vote count for the constituency becomes 24 303, with the discrepancy being 9 491 votes.
  2. Goromonzi: ZEC announced the total votes cast as being 15 611. The MDC candidate, with 8 578 votes, polled more than half of the votes cast. However, when results were finally issued the Zanu PF candidate was announced the winner with 16 782 votes, 1 171 votes more than the total number of votes cast. The total votes cast for the 2 candidates, including spoilt ballots, becomes 26 123. The discrepancy is 10 512 votes.
  3. Kariba: ZEC announced the total votes cast as being 16 676. The MDC candidate, with 9 540 votes, polled more than half of the votes cast. However, when results were finally issued the Zanu PF candidate was announced the winner with 13 719 votes. The total votes cast for the 2 candidates, including spoilt ballots, becomes 24 142. The discrepancy is 7 466 votes.
  4. Seke Rural: ZEC's total votes cast in Seke are given as 11 344. The MDC candidate, with 8 843 votes, polled more than half of the votes cast. But, when results were finally issued the Zanu PF candidate was announced winner with 15 434 votes, which is 4 090 more votes than the total votes cast. The total votes for all the candidates, including spoilt ballots, mysteriously becomes 24 873. The discrepancy is 13 529.
  5. Mutare South: The ZEC figures for the total votes cast is 14 054. The MDC candidate received 12 163 votes. The final result released shows total votes as being 28 575, with 16 412 of these being for the winning Zanu PF. This registers a discrepancy of 14 521.
  6. Buhera South: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 25 447. The MDC candidate received 13 893 votes, more than half of the total votes cast. When results were finally issued, the Zanu PF candidate was announced the winner, with 15 066 votes. This gives a total of 28 959 ballots cast for the constituency, leaving a discrepancy of 3 512.
  7. Marondera East: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 25 193. When results were finally issued, the Zanu PF candidate was announced the winner, with 19 192 votes against 10 066 for his MDC counterpart. The total vote count for the constituency is 29 935, leaving a discrepancy of 4 742.
  8. Buhera North: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 16 795. When results were finally issued, the Zanu PF candidate was announced the winner, with 17 677 votes against 4 137 for his MDC counterpart. The total vote count for the constituency is 22 688, leaving a discrepancy of 5 893.
  9. Murehwa South: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 8 579. The MDC candidate received 4 586, more than half of the total votes cast. However, when results were finally issued the winning Zanu PF candidate was announced to have received 19 200 votes, more than double the number of votes cast. This gives a total of 24 463. There is a discrepancy of 15 207.
  10. Mutasa South: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 15 733. The MDC candidate received 9 380, more than half of the total votes cast. However, when results were finally announced the Zanu PF candidate was reported have received 9 715 votes. The total vote count, including spoilt ballots, amounts to 19 573, leaving 3 840 votes unaccounted for.
  11. Mutasa North: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 10 986. The MDC candidate polled 6 605 votes, again more than half of the total votes cast. But, when results were finally announced the Zanu PF candidate was reported have received 10 135 votes. The total vote count, including spoilt ballots, amounts to 17 204, leaving 6 218 votes unaccounted for.
  12. Nyanga: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 13 896. The MDC candidate polled 9 360 votes. When results were officially announced, the Zanu PF candidate was reported have received 12 612 votes. The total vote count, including spoilt ballots, amounts to 22 739, leaving 8 843 votes unaccounted for.
  13. Chimanimani: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 23 896. The MDC candidate received 11 031 votes, while 794 votes were spoilt. When results were officially announced, the Zanu PF candidate was reported to have received 15 817 votes. The total vote count, including spoilt ballots, amounts to 27 642, leaving 3 746 votes unaccounted for.
  14. Makoni North: The total votes cast for the constituency, according to ZEC was 14 068. However, when results were officially announced the winning Zanu PF candidate received 18 910, with the MDC's candidate polling 6 077 votes, giving total votes for the two candidates as 24 987. There is a discrepancy of 10 919 votes.
  15. Chipinge North: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 23 896. When results were finally issued, the Zanu PF candidate was announced the winner, with 16 047 votes against 10 920 for his MDC counterpart. The total vote count for the constituency is 27 576, leaving a discrepancy of 3 625.
  16. Chipinge South: The total ZEC figure for votes cast is 29 479. When results were finally issued, the Zanu PF candidate was announced the winner, with 16 412 votes against 12 163 for his MDC counterpart and 2 129 for Zanu Ndonga. The total vote count for the constituency is 30 704, leaving a discrepancy of 1 225.
  17. Makoni East: ZEC announced that 20 454 people voted. When results were finally announced, the total votes for the 2 candidates, including spoilt ballots, amounts to 17 341, leaving a negative balance of 3 113 votes unaccounted for.
  18. Beitbridge: ZEC announced that 36 821 had voted but the totals for the candidates only add up to 20 602, leaving a negative balance of 16 219 votes unaccounted for.
  19. Hwedza: ZEC announced that 23 698 people voted. The total votes cast for all candidates, including spoilt ballots, amount to 26 736, leaving 3 038 votes unaccounted for.
  20. Mutare West: ZEC announced that 18 584 people voted. The total votes counted for the candidates, including spoilt ballots, amount to 20 950, leaving 2 366 votes unaccounted for.
  21. Chegutu: ZEC announced that 19 763 people voted. The total votes counted for the candidates, including spoilt ballots, amount to 25 374, leaving 5 611 votes unaccounted for.
  22. Chikomba: ZEC announced that 18 401 people voted. The total vote count, including spoilt ballots, amount to 26 050, leaving 7 649 votes unaccounted for.
  23. Hurungwe East: ZEC announced that 22 533 people voted. The total votes counted for the two candidates is 26 552, leaving 4019 votes unaccounted for.
  24. Mudzi East: ZEC announced that 12 499 people voted. The total votes counted for the candidates is 22 420, leaving 9 921 votes unaccounted for.
  25. Mudzi West: ZEC announced that 10 998 people voted. The total votes counted for the candidates is 22 796, leaving 11 798 votes unaccounted for.
  26. Murehwa North: ZEC announced that 17 606 people voted. However, when results were finally issued the winning Zanu PF candidate was announced to have received 17 677, while his MDC counterpart received 4 137. The total votes counted for the candidates is 22 353, leaving 4 747 votes unaccounted for.
  27. Mutoko North: ZEC announced that 10 721 people voted. But, when results were finally issued the winning Zanu PF candidate was announced to have received 16 257. The total votes counted for the candidates is 20 652, leaving 9 931 votes unaccounted for.
  28. Mutoko South: ZEC announced that 15 863 people voted. But, when results were finally issued the winning Zanu PF candidate was announced to have received 19 390. The total votes counted for the candidates is 23 481 leaving 7 618 votes unaccounted for.
  29. Insiza: ZEC announced that 20 220 people voted. When results were officially announced, the winning Zanu PF candidate was announced to have received 13 109, while his MDC counterpart received 8,840 votes. The total votes announced for the constituency is 22 099, leaving 1 879 votes unaccounted for.
  30. Gwanda: ZEC announced that 23 288 people voted. When results were officially announced, the winning Zanu PF candidate was announced to have received 13 109, while his MDC counterpart received 10 961 votes. The total votes announced for the constituency is 24 594, leaving 1 300 votes unaccounted for.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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