Elections in 2008

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has been documenting political violence since its inception in 1998, and, since July 2001, has been issuing Monthly Political Violence Reports. In addition, the Human Rights Forum has issued a total of 34 special reports, many of these concerned with violence during elections. The Human Rights Forum has consistently indicated that the majority of the violence recorded has been undertaken by both state agents and supporters of the ZANU PF party.

In the immediate aftermath of their defeat in the 2008 harmonised elections in Zimbabwe, shocked ZANU PF politicians are reported to have approached the “opposition” MDC with tentative proposals for a unity government. The inability of ZANU PF to accept and absorb its defeat is manifested in the fact their proposals insisted that Mugabe retain the presidency – the real location of power in Zimbabwe.

The media and political analysts seem to be confused as what precisely ought to have happened after people went to the polls in Zimbabwe on March 29th 2008 to vote in four ‘’harmonised’’ elections – those for Local Government, the house of Assembly, the senate, and the President. This confusion could have been avoided by ignoring what ZANU-PF and ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) spin doctors said after the initial results began to reveal that the opposition had won the elections, and looking to see what the Electoral Act (‘’the Act’’) prescribed.

One of the enduring mysteries of the SADC Facilitation, and the central role that hegemonic South Africa has played in this, has been the steadfast manner in which the region has avoided the most obvious lessons of Southern African history and particularly South African history. For South Africa, the political change was built around the principled negotiations of the CODESA that led to the building of deep trust between the respective parties and the nation as a whole.

The elections of March 2008 yielded an astounding victory for Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change opposition parties. For the first time, the ruling ZANU PF party lost its majority in parliament – by a single seat to the MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and 11 seats if combined with those held by the formation of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara (MDCM). Tsvangirai garnered over 4% more of the votes than Mugabe in the presidential poll, but (officially) short of the 50% plus one to prevent a run-off.

This paper considers the general appointment of persons by the President of Zimbabwe to positions in the new inclusive government and specifically in terms of any Act of Parliament or the Constitution. The issue of these appointments has proved contentious, with the MDC-T claiming that the appointments which have been made (and one which has not) violate the agreements relating to power sharing between the parties.

The registration of voters and the compilation and maintenance of an accurate national voters’ roll has been recognized as an essential and key part of the electoral cycle. Since the voters’ rolls record who may or may not vote, they may ultimately have a determining effect on who wins the poll. Equally importantly, it is imperative that the voters’ rolls, being the cornerstone of the administration of a democratic election, be accurate and up to date. While an incomplete voters’ roll may disenfranchise those who might otherwise be entitled to vote, an inflated roll containing duplicate entries, names of persons who have emigrated or of dead voters, lends itself to electoral fraud.

On the 29th March 2008, Zimbabwe simultaneously held elections for the presidency, two houses of assembly and local government councils, as required by a recent constitutional amendment. The synchronisation of these four polls earned the elections the moniker “harmonised elections”, distinguishing these polls from the run-off in the presidential election held on 27 June, 2009 after no candidate officially emerged with an absolute majority (50% plus one vote).

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