The forthcoming elections are provoking considerable excitement, mainly over whether Robert
Mugabe will survive the most serious challenge yet to his political hegemony over Zimbabwe.
However, it seems very difficult to anticipate what outcomes there could be in early April. In part
this is because the electoral laws need some clarification, particularly the apparent conflict between
Section 110(3) and Paragraph 3 of the Second Schedule of the Electoral Act, and in part because of
the very complicated political situation in Zimbabwe and the apparent splits within ZANU PF over
whether Mugabe should remain in power.
Dealing with the first issue, Section 110(3) of the Electoral Act states that the winner in the first
round of a Presidential election must have an absolute majority of the valid votes cast, however
Paragraph 3 suggests that the Chief Election Officer has the power to declare as the winner the
candidate with the “greater” or the “greatest” number of votes. Paragraph 3 of the Second Schedule
is a hangover from the previous Electoral Act, and, if the principles of good legislative interpretation
are followed – which may not be the case – then the substantive clause, Section 110(3), should

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Law, Politics and Zimbabwe’s ‘Unity’ Government

As the euphoria over the so-called ‘Third Wave’ of democratization has receded, it has become only too evident that the primary mechanism for thwarting progress towards democracy has too frequently been elections. In part, this has been due to the overweening emphasis put on elections by the advocates of democracy: the presence or absence of democracy has too frequently been judged by the number of ‘free and fair’ elections that any given country has held; Larry Diamond has termed this the ‘fallacy of electoralism’. To be fair, serious commentators have been warning about this over-emphasis for more than a decade, pointing out that the so-called ‘transition paradigm’ was being thwarted all over the world and perhaps more strongly in Africa than on any other continent. Carothers, for example, contrasted ‘feckless pluralism’ and ‘dominant power politics’ as two strategies used to advance the veneer of democracy while avoiding it in all substantial ways. Both forms of governance adhere only minimally to the normal standards for running elections as a method of maintaining political power and thwarting criticism (Zimbabwe would seem to be a good example of the latter). The important factor in the collapse of the ‘Third Wave’ seems to be the speed with which undemocratic governments learned about the inoculating effect of elections, and the manner in which political power could be maintained merely through holding them, no matter how bogus they were.

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On the 18th April, 2008 President Robert Mugabe officiated at ceremonies commemorating Zimbabwe’s 28th year of independence. Flanked by service chiefs throughout the militaristic displays, Mugabe gave not so much as a flicker of acknowledgement that but three weeks previously the electorate had indicated that they would prefer another person to carry out this role. The semiotics of the occasion were clear. In Zimbabwe, the exercise of power is not the end of a trajectory which commences with the expression of democratic preference – more than that, the expression of democratic preference is utterly irrelevant to the exercise of power. In speeches prior to the March 29th poll, Mugabe made it clear that he regarded the election as simply an opportunity to show fealty and obeisance to power, and then to reap promised and consequent rewards. A vote for anyone other than the ruling ZANU PF party’s candidates would, in his words, be ―a wasted vote. Supported by statements from service chiefs that they would not recognise or accept the opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s candidate Morgan Tsvangirai as president if he won, Mugabe also stated on numerous occasions before the election, that power would ―never, ever be yielded to the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai.

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Staring a gift horse in the mouth. Death Spiral in Zimbabwe: Mediation, Violence and the GNU

In March 2008 Zimbabweans voted in the most peaceful election since independence, resulting in an unambiguous victory for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Three months later, the country is haemorrhaging from a massive and rising tide of political violence not seen since the state-sponsored terror of the early 1980s. The ruling party and its supporters are responsible for the vast majority of the current attacks. As if to underscore his party‟s public embrace of violence, President Mugabe now openly threatens to “wage war” beyond the June 27 Presidential run-off election, if his candidacy should be rejected by the people for a second time. Meanwhile, the MDC government-elect, MDC party structures and much of the party‟s leadership have been forced into hiding as they seek to convince voters of their right to select – and see installed in place – a president of their choice.

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2018 Elections: What Happened to the Women?

With the passing of the 2013 Constitution came an explicit commitment to gender equality in all aspects of Zimbabwean life, which was an important achievement of the women’s movement in all the lead up to the final draft. A crucial first step to ensuing compliance with the Constitution was for women to achieve parity in representation. Unless women are able to have a full say in the executive and legislative life of the country, they remain at the mercy of the agendas of their male counterparts, and past history has shown that women’s issues tend to be given a lower priority than many other issues in the governing of the country.
A first step to honouring the Constitution came in 2013 with proportional representation in which political parties were given seats for women in direct relation to the number of votes received by a party in the elections. This resulted in a greater number of women in parliament, but fewer women were directly elected. Whilst an apparent advance in the direction of gender parity, in practice it meant that those proportionally appointed actually had less power outside parliament than their directly elected colleagues.

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Press Kit

Founded in 2006, the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) is a Zimbabwean based think tank dedicated toundertaking sound independent policy research to inform, influence and enhance policy-making processeswhile also strengthening active citizenship. With a team of experienced researchers, advocacy experts and communication strategists, RAU conducts research in areas such as human rights, democracy and governance particularly issues pertaining to women, children and state institutions.

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Several studies acknowledge that accurate data on the true extent of child marriage is difficult to obtain because many marriages go unregistered and girls’ ages may be falsified (IPPF, 2006:11). However, UNICEF estimates that globally, some 64 million young women (aged 20-24) were married before the age of 18. One girl below the age of 18 is married off every three seconds worldwide, according to a British community development charity. A report from Plan UK, entitled ‘Breaking Vows’, states that 10 million under-18s become child brides every year. In developing countries – in Southern America, North Africa and parts of Asia – one in seven of all girls, under 15, are married. Rates of early and forced marriages are also high in Europe, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, where 2.2 million girls are married before their 18th birthday. The highest rates are in Georgia (17%) and Turkey (14%).Allowing people to marry under the age of 18 is against several United Nations conventions and the practice is outlawed in most countries, but other countries turn a blind eye, especially in poorer communities. Child marriage is now widely recognised as a violation of children’s rights. It is also a direct form of discrimination against the girl child, who, as a result of the practice, is often deprived of her basic rights to health, education, development, and equality. Tradition, religion, and poverty continue to fuel the practice of child marriage, despite its strong association with adverse reproductive health outcomes and the lack of education for girls

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Till death do us part? Marriage in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to “eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations.” It also has the duty to “modify social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women with aview to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.”In February 2012, Zimbabwe was reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee) in line with the state’s obligations under CEDAW. Among the many recommendations that the Committee made (presented as ‘concluding observations’) were specific points relating to the issue of marriages in Zimbabwe. The Committee noted the prevalence of child marriages as one of the biggest challenges to girls’ access to education. The Committee also expressed its concern with the continued discrimination against women by customary laws and practices in relation to divorce/ separation, inheritance and property rights, and noted that the continued existence of a variety of marriage laws which give different rights to men and women, in particular that the practice of polygamy and lobola continue to discriminate against women.

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