Tuesday, August 6, 2013

TCF challenges Zimbabwe’s elections

TANZANIA Constitutional Forum (TCF) has said that, despite of the newly formed Zimbabwean constitution which was approved on March this year, the just ended general election held early this week which gave trhe incumbent President Robert Mugabe a landslide victory was faced with lots of challenges. TCF’s Chairman Deus Kibamba told a press conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday that, they were surprised to see that, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) started to distribute some of the ballot papers to designated polling stations a day before the day of election. THE TCF members were among the 500 election observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who teamed up a task force that observed the Zimbabwe’s general election which the world is anxious waiting to hear its Presidential results at any time from now. He outlined among the major irregularities noticed during their observation were in the permanent voter registration book on which he said a voters could tamper with the ink on their thumb finger and remove it and then go to another polling station within the same ward and cast the vote again. He wondered and said that, in some polling stations there were no voter registration book one week before the election day, an aspect that voters encountered with some difficulties to countercheck their names. Due to this, voters spent lots of time walking from one polling station to another searching for their names in order to vote. As the exercise became more tedious, some voters were returned home and were not allowed to vote simply because they could not find their names on the appropriate voter registration books made available in some polling stations. The work of tracing their names was so difficult as some had their names deleted ever since without their knowledge. 

The elected Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in a jovial mood after being announced the winner of the last week's general election. He scooped a landslide victory of 61 percent over his opponent Morgan Tsangirai who got 38 percent of the total votes cast. Mugabe is expected to be sworn in soon after. This is the seventh time the disputed Zimbabwean President wins the election since the country attained its independence in 1980.

Elaborating other irregularities he noted that, there were fewer polling stations in urban centers than the case and moreover voters were given few days to counter check their names, a factor that made some of the people to quickly move to rural areas for fresh registration Another funny thing Chairman Kibamba noted is the involvement of the soldiers who seemed to have voted twice apart from their special day which was set for them to cast their vote. To the great dismay, Chairman Kibamba says that, some of them were seen casting their votes on the second day contrary to the rule as they mingled up with other civilians while in plain clothes. Elaborating more about this, the chairman noted that, soldiers were given two days to vote as their number was 69,000, but the most surprising thing to note is that at the end results showed that only 29,000 participated in the voting process.  He clarified other irregularities as that, campaigns for the contesting parties went peacefully except in some areas there were few acts of human violence that had emerged, but generally peace prevailed in most parts as compared to what had happened during the 2008 elections. He however, said that, there were no enough security in opposition party’s campaign grounds as police shun them and strengthened more security in the campaigns of the ruling ZANU-PF which is led by Robert Mugabe , he said adding that, national media organs also used more time to cover in large the campaigns for the ZANU-PF and shun away the opposition campaign grounds. Another thing which the TCF witnessed and could reveal is that, police prevented people who wanted to move out of the campaigns of the ruling party. He said that, anybody who tried to move was prevented and was made to stay and wait, despite of their claims the police denied to give them freedom to fulfill their appointments anywhere they wanted to go. Kibamba noted that Tanzania needs to learn more during election time and that they should have solidity so that they might conduct the elections fairly and peacefully. Also a member of the TCF Herbon Musakagenda noted that out of 1 million people, only 700,000 people cast their votes. He said further that, there are many people who could not use their rights to vote as their name3s could not appear in permanent voter registration book d members

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