Observers Condemn Zimbabwe’s Elections in a joint statement.
The SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), AU-COMESA, and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC (ECF-SADC) Observer Missions have collectively issued a joint statement stating that Zimbabwe’s 2023 harmonized elections, held on August 23–24, did not fully meet the requirements outlined in the Zimbabwean constitution.
In a statement, the Observer Missions noted a number of concerns, including:
- The delimitation process was flawed and unconstitutionally executed.
- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) did not release the voters’ roll on time for candidate auditing.
- A restrictive fee was charged for the voters’ roll.
- Police disrupted opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) rallies, violating the right to freedom of assembly.
- The Patriotic Bill, which restricts freedom of speech, is unconstitutional.
- Presidential aspirant Saviour Kasukuwere was disqualified in an unconstitutional manner.
- Nomination fees were restrictive, particularly for independent candidates.
- There has been inadequate progress in achieving gender parity, despite the 30% female quota.
- There are concerns regarding the independence of the judiciary and possible government influence.
- There have been allegations of voter intimidation by a group called Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ).
- There has been controversy surrounding postal voting and allegations of coerced voting by police officers.
- State-owned media has been biased against opposition parties and candidates, contrary to impartiality requirements.
The Observer Missions acknowledged that it is premature to pass judgment on the credibility of the elections as the electoral process is still ongoing, particularly since the announcement of the presidential results is pending. However, they did identify certain areas of the electoral process that could be improved. These recommendations include:
- Access to the voters’ roll: The ZEC is advised to adhere to constitutional provisions regarding transparency and access to information by promptly and transparently providing the voters’ roll as stipulated in the Electoral Act.
- Nomination fees: The ZEC is encouraged to engage with relevant stakeholders to revise nomination fees for candidates, taking into consideration the SADC region’s context and Zimbabwe’s economic realities, in order to promote inclusivity and openness in the political process.
- State-owned media coverage: Media regulatory authorities are urged to enforce measures that ensure impartiality in the coverage of political events by state-owned media outlets.
- Voting materials: The ZEC is urged to enhance transparency in the procurement and delivery of voting materials, including ballot papers, by implementing a monitoring system that involves the participation and verification of electoral stakeholders. Clear timeframes should also be established in the Electoral Act for completing these processes.
- Women’s participation: Concrete measures should be taken at the earliest opportunity in the next parliament to promote the equal participation of women as candidates in electoral processes.
The Observer Missions commended the people of Zimbabwe for maintaining a peaceful political environment throughout the pre-election period and on voting day. They will release a final report after the validation and proclamation of the final results, which will be shared with the ZEC and all stakeholders.
The long-term observers will continue post-election observation until 1st September 2023, and the SEAC will conduct a post-election review to assess the implementation of recommendations and provide necessary support.
In case of electoral disputes, the Missions urged all contestants to follow established legal procedures. They also appealed to political parties, the people of Zimbabwe, and all stakeholders to allow the ZEC to announce the final results as mandated by law.