Wednesday 30 August 2023


There are many questions about the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) alleged role in suppressing people’s votes by withholding ballot papers in the metropolitan cities of Bulawayo and Harare.

These questions arise due to the scarcity of ballot papers despite on voting day despite ZEC openly announcing on August 18, 2023, that they printed over seven million presidential ballot papers, including extras.

ZEC Chief Elections Officer Utiloile Silaigwana, said a total of 21 087 000 ballot papers were printed, comprising presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections to cater for the 6 623 511 registered voters.

This is one of the concerns that has prompted the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) to demand fresh elections to be overseen by SADC and the African Union, a call which some citizens support.

“It is concerning that the late opening of polling stations only took place in opposition strongholds. We also noted that there was a shortage of council ballot papers yet there were no nomination court challenges for local authority in Bulawayo,” said Iphithule Maphosa.

Another citizen Solomon Harudzibwi claimed that withholding ballot papers was part of vote suppression.

“Vote suppression by withholding ballot papers for more than 10 hours was the worst idea of rigging anyone could’ve done, considering that ZEC had issued a statement a few days before confirming they already printed paper that included extras,” he said

Citizens also questioned why the government did not extend the public holiday to August 24, 2023 despite the fact that voting had been extended to accommodate stations that began polling later.

“The practicality of extending voting without declaring a public holiday raises concerns. On August 24 many people went back to work, some had allocated just a day to vote, and others were returning to their workplaces. As a result, several people couldn’t participate during the extended time frame due to prior commitments. People did not vote. The Zanu PF strategy to suppress urban vote worked,” said Lisah Ncube.

Another citizen identified as Admire questioned how the extending of voting hours could be justified when ZEC announced they had printed enough ballots for Election Day.

“Only for those ballots to be deliberately unavailable on the voting day as a way to disenfranchise urban voters. These elections were a disaster waiting to happen, and fraudulent!” he said.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) claimed ZEC has been infiltrated and captured.

“The Zanu PF government infiltrated and captured ZEC and deployed it to make sure there is victory of the ruling party in the 23 August 2023 election,” said the organisation noting three observable facts to justify their claim.

“First, the Zanu PF government has populated ZEC with relatives, allies and sympathisers of the top leadership of Zanu PF.”

ZDI said on June 7, 2023, then-President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed six new ZEC commissioners.

Among the appointed Commissioners is the daughter of Zanu PF’s second secretary, Kembo Mohadi.

“Abigail’s mother is also a senator for Beitbridge representing Zanu PF. Another ZEC appointee Catherine Mpofu is also believed to be related to Zanu PF’s Secretary for Administration, Obert Mpofu,” ZDI stated.

ZDI added that another ZEC appointee, Kudzai Shava, has been linked to the minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Frederick Shava.

“In September 2021, the retired army general Utoile Silaigwana was appointed to be the substantive Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of ZEC. The history of military politics suggests that army generals are very much linked to Zanu PF because the two military groups which led the war – ZPRA and ZANLA, have laid the foundations of the Zimbabwean army (Ruhanya, 2017),” cited the organisation.

“Therefore, army generals, whether serving or retired, are active Zanu PF members and supporters. This can be referenced to the retired Commander of the Defence Forces (CDF) Constantino Chiwenga who in November 2017 retired and was immediately appointed Zanu PF deputy president.”

ZDI concluded that therefore, “it can be argued that the Zanu PF government has populated ZEC with its relatives, allies and sympathisers, who may not be impartial or independent in conducting free and fair elections.” CITE


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