Although the 2023 elections are fast approaching, Zimbabwe has made little progress in implementing key electoral reforms to enable the smooth running of credible, free and fair elections.
This was the conclusion of a report by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which expressed concern that the government had failed to implement proposals by various observer missions after the disputed 2018 elections, including a new legal framework to govern elections and enhance the independence of the Zimbabwe Election Commission.
The Election Support Network said there had been no movement on many recommendations and noted that the lack of voter education and election observers ‘resulted in suspicious election results and rigging during the 2018 elections’. (See: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/no-progress-on-electoral-reforms-zesn/.)
About 40 MDC Alliance supporters tried to enter the Zimbabwe Election Commission offices in Harare on Thursday where a meeting was taking place on preparations for the elections. 19 people were arrested including 10 journalists. The journalists were released without charge. The MDC Alliance has been excluded from the meetings, although all the other parties were allowed. The Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said: ‘The regime is panicking’. (See: https://guardian.ng/news/19-arrested-at-zimbabwe-pre-election-protest/.)
Zanu PF has not only been resistant to reform but now condemns opposition leader Nelson Chamisa for seeking American assistance in training election agents in an attempt to at least make more difficult Zanu PF’s practised election-stealing mechanism.
In a bizarre tweet the increasingly demented presidential spokesman George Charamba claimed the government had ‘received intelligence’ that two MDC Alliance officials had approached the US Embassy seeking help in the training and equipping of fifty election agents.
Confirming the Vigil’s doubts that the government understands what intelligence is, Charamba called it ‘an unwarranted interference in a country’s political affairs’ and said that the US government was ‘skating on thin ice’.
Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said there was no reason why Charamba should fret over issues of training of election agents as it was aimed at promoting free and fair elections. ‘Charamba is speaking from a museum. Why does he think that training of election agents is political interference? It is archaic. There is no interference in the training of election agents. He actually should be supporting it because it promotes free and fair elections. We cannot enjoy cheated elections. We need reforms that allow us to avoid disputed polls.’ (See: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/09/zim-us-in-fresh-diplomatic-row/.)
An equally challenging problem is corruption. The Zimbabwe anti-Corruption Commission Chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo says the major perpetrators of corruption were bigwigs but it was difficult for ordinary citizens to report them because of the absence of legislation protecting whistle blowers (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2021/09/graft-rife-among-bigwigs-zacc-chair/).
· With a heavy heart, the Vigil reports the death of Pastor Albert Chatindo who worked tirelessly for many years to help the destitute in the Bulawayo region. He was in poor health recently but appeared to be improving. Sadly he died on Thursday. The Vigil has long been a supporter of Pastor Albert and thanks the congregation of St Michael’s Church in Highgate London who have helped provide successive vehicles to enable Albert to carry out his Christian Mission to distribute food and bring hope to the most vulnerable. Condolences have been pouring in from far and wide.
Here’s just one: ‘Albert the Lord saw the years you gave and gave and gave serving His people and your body was tired and hurting, our tears are flowing so much for our loss but Heaven has prepared such a wonderful place for you and your joy will be overflowing. Go well my brother we’ll miss you so much.’ Over the years we have felt it necessary not to identify Albert in our diaries in case he was victimised by Zanu PF. We are proud now to say we have supported him. We give particular thanks to his close supporters and pray they will be able to continue Albert’s work.
- Today was a virtual Vigil. For the moment we are meeting outside the Embassy every other week and our next gathering will be on 9th October when we will mark the Vigil’s 19th anniversary. We hope that many of you will come. On the alternate Saturdays we will continue with the virtual Vigil. However, it was agreed that because we are now able to meet physically and the Vigil is about making the effort to join together in protest, it is not appropriate to continue the virtual Vigils in the same way as they were conducted when we weren’t able to meet. To be recorded as participating in a virtual Vigil your photo, taken with a poster with a message reflecting the situation in Zimbabwe, must be taken at one of the actual Vigils. There will be a small charge to cover admin costs, the ongoing upkeep of the Vigil and our support for the human rights work of ROHR, our sister organisation in Zimbabwe. The photos will then be labelled with your name, uploaded on our website, Flickr site and Facebook pages. For today’s photos, see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157719997614665. Our virtual Vigil activists today were Anna Chikoti, Delice Gavazah, Babula Gwatiringa, Deborah Harry, Junior Madzimure, Philip Maponga, Dambudzo Marimira, Amina Matewele, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Dudzai Mukondorongwe and Casper Nyamakura who all kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
- For all Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
Events and Notices:
- The next Vigil and the Vigil’s 19th Anniversary. Saturday 9th October from 2 – 5 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London.
- ROHR Bi-annual Conference. Saturday 23rd October. Among agenda items is 1) leadership renewal, 2) 2022 activity calendar, 3) immigration matters and 4) campaign strategy.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
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