One Week to Go: Will the Election Take Place and What is Likely to Happen?

Source: One Week to Go: Will the Election Take Place and What is Likely to Happen?

Topic: One Week to Go: Will the Election Take Place and What is Likely to Happen? Time: Aug 17, 2023 5.30pm Harare/Pretoria; 4.30pm UK; duration: 2 hours. To Join Zoom Meeting, click on this link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84816909841?pwd=QTFYRUwxR1V1NjlwZkN2MzRHWHhOUT09 Meeting ID: 848 1690 9841 With one week to go before the elections on 23 August, the problems with

Topic: One Week to Go: Will the Election Take Place and What is Likely to Happen?

Time: Aug 17, 2023 5.30pm Harare/Pretoria; 4.30pm UK; duration: 2 hours.

To Join Zoom Meeting, click on this link:

https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84816909841?pwd=QTFYRUwxR1V1NjlwZkN2MzRHWHhOUT09

Meeting ID: 848 1690 9841

With one week to go before the elections on 23 August, the problems with the acceptability of this election rise daily.The violence is rising daily, as pointed out by the Zimbabwe Human rights NGO Forum and the Zimbabwe Peace Project. The concerns about the role of FAZ grow exponentially, with increasing evidence of the deployment of its members right around the country, virtually in every village. The extent of vote buying has reached epidemic levels, and so flagrant that all citizens can see this. Finally, the election is being preceded by huge numbers of legal cases, 133 by one account, candidates are being disallowed, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) challenging one virtually every aspect of its management; from delimitation, the voters’ role, voter education, etc.

Invitations to observe the Zimbabwean elections have been sent to 47 countries and 17 international organisations. A critical issue for all those that finally attend will be the adherence of these elections to best practice standards, particularly those of SADC and the AU. The observers will be faced with possibly the most complex and difficult election since 2008.

It is complex because of the serious conflict within ZANU-PF, epitomised by the candidature of Saviour Kasukuwere (apparently with credible support from within ZANU-PF itself), the apparent absence of the military (as in previous elections endorsing candidates and parties), the mysterious role of FAZ, and, as pointed out above, the unprecedented expenditure by ZANU-PF for the presidential poll. It is a matter of deep concern that the state/ZANU-PF are able to regiment huge numbers of citizens around the country, and the concern is not merely about the poll but also about what are the implications in the event of another disputed result.

It is also complex because of the remarkable result in 2018 where, of the 125 constituencies won by ZANU-PF, in 118 of these the vote for Emmerson Mnangagwa was lower than for the constituency: does this suggest again the prospect of another Bhora Masangu, and the inevitability of a run-off for the presidency, and with what implications?

It is difficult because of the prevailing context. Few ruling parties within in the annals of political science win elections when they have overseen the destruction of the citizens’ livelihood, as was the case in 2008 when Robert Mugabe lost on the first round, supposedly blamed for the hardships in the country.It is also difficult for all the factors mentioned above, and the extent to which all of these put together suggest that the election cannot be free, fair, or credible. To date, no-one in the multiple discussions, policy dialogues, and conferences held in recent weeks has suggested that the elections could get even a passing grade.

Thus, with one week to go before polling, it is important to take final stock of the per-election process, and raise three important questions:

 Firstly, will the election even take place in the light of all the legal challenges before the courts?
 Secondly, if the election does take place, what is likely to be the outcome, and will it be an outcome acceptable to the nation, the region, and the international community?
 Thirdly, if the elections do not pass the test of best practice and result once again in contested legitimacy for the incoming government, what is the way forward for restoring Zimbabwe to democracy and international re-engagement?
These questions amongst other issues will be discussed by an expert panel.

Convener & Moderator:
Ibbo Mandaza (Director, SAPES Trust)

Panellists:
Babra Ontibile Bebhe (Director, Election Resource Centre)
Gorden Moyo (Director, Public Policy Research Institute)
Dzikamai Bere (Director, ZimRights)
Tawanda Chimhini (Election advisor with experience working with international observers in
over 25 African elections since 2006)

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