RFK Center questions legitimacy of the newly elected government

Statement from the RFK Center

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) questions the results of Zimbabwe’s July 31 election and the legitimacy of the newly elected government. On August 3, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced that Robert Mugabe had secured the presidency for a seventh consecutive term by winning 61 percent of the vote and that ZANU-PF had garnered a two-thirds majority in Parliament. According to information gathered by the RFK Center, the environment leading up to the vote was characterized by an unequal playing field, replete with widespread breaches of domestic and international law, and widespread irregularities continued on Election Day.

During a visit to Zimbabwe in March 2013, an RFK Center delegation documented the concerns of citizens, mainly pertaining to human rights violations against individuals and civil society organizations participating in the electoral process, including systematic intimidation, threats, violence, and arbitrary detention of activists, and violations of freedom of expression and access to information. Following the publication of the RFK Center report, A Promise in Peril: How Widespread Rights Violations Undermine Zimbabwe’s Elections, we continued to receive reports of irregularities throughout the electoral process.

On July 31, Zimbabweans cast their ballots in a highly anticipated election. According to figures provided by the ZEC, nearly twice as many citizens turned out to vote in this election compared to 2008. The election was characterized by largely peaceful proceedings with few reported instances of violence; certainly a welcome contrast to 2008, when over 200 people were killed and thousands forced to flee their homes to escape the political chaos that had engulfed the country.

However, reports of electoral fraud were pervasive, with opposition political parties and independent domestic observers echoing similar and consistent concerns. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a nongovernmental organization that organized the largest in-country observation team, noted in its initial report that the credibility of the election was “seriously compromised” due to a high number of documented irregularities.

The most serious irregularity is the alleged disenfranchisement of millions of eligible voters as a result of Zimbabwe’s deeply flawed electoral roll. In violation of domestic law and international standards, an electronic form of the register was not made available to the participating political parties or to civil society organizations prior to Election Day. An independent audit of a hard copy, which took place two weeks prior to the election, found that one million people on the register were deceased; 63 constituencies had more registered voters than inhabitants; and well over 100,000 people were over the age of 100, all in a country that has an average life expectancy of 52.

The voter registration process was also compromised and not undertaken in good faith by relevant state authorities. One civic group estimates that as many as two million potential voters under the age of 30 remained unregistered on Election Day. According to their own figures, the Registrar General’s Office (RG) registered a mere 8 percent of those in the 18–19 age group, while somehow managing to register 220 percent of those over the age of 80. Large numbers—with some estimates as high as 30 percent—of urban voters were also reportedly denied requisite opportunities to register, whereas 99.97 percent of rural voters, located in traditional ZANU-PF strongholds, were allowed to do so. The RG also disenfranchised upwards of four million Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora by not allowing them to participate in the election, despite a May 2013 ruling by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) that affirmed their right to vote, and further violated the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, which stipulates that voting rights be extended to the Diaspora community.

On Election Day, ZESN observation teams noted that voters were turned away from 82 percent of urban polling stations, many of which are located in areas strongly supportive of the opposition. Overall, it is projected that between 700,000–1 million urban voters were systematically disenfranchised. Election observers also noted that far too many extra ballots—perhaps as many as two million—had been printed and so far remain unaccounted for. According to many local reports, high numbers of uniformed security personnel at polling stations intimidated those who still bear the scars, both physical and emotional, of past police brutality. An alarmingly high number of voters also required special “voting assistance,” particularly for a country like Zimbabwe which boasts Sub-Saharan Africa’s highest literacy rate. To date, reported irregularities and allegations of fraud by civil society organizations, opposition political parties, and domestic observers have been ignored by the SADC and African Union missions and not addressed by the ZEC, despite its constitutional responsibility to do so.

While the people of Zimbabwe must be commended for the peaceful and dignified manner in which they went to the polls, there are serious outstanding concerns about the integrity of the electoral process that must be thoroughly investigated. The evidence shows that the will of the Zimbabwean people has been systematically suppressed and not reflected in the official election results. The high number of infringements on political rights during the electoral process, as well as the disenfranchisement of huge segments of the population on Election Day, undermines the legitimacy of the newly-elected Mugabe administration.

Given the violations of the rights of citizens to vote and to participate freely in public affairs—rights that are protected under Zimbabwean law and international human rights conventions ratified by Zimbabwe—the RFK Center strongly urges President Mugabe and ZANU-PF to work with the international community, civil society, and opposition political parties to address these concerns and reach an equitable solution that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people.

via http://rfkcenter.org/rfk-center-questions-legitimacy-of-newly-elected-government-in-zimbabwe-2
Contact: Meaghan Baron
Director of Communications


  • comment-avatar
    Marufu Marufu 9 years ago

    The RFK centre is conveniently turning a blind eye towards the reports of such international bodies as the African Union and SADC which gave thumbs up to the plebiscite. The Centre conveniently chose to quote ZESN but does not disclose to the readers that ZESN is a creation of the West and that the NGO is funded by the West to serve certain interests

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      Peter Chieza 9 years ago

      democracy means one man one vote. Mugabe and zanu-pf fought for this in the late 1970’s – so why has that which he fought for been totally ignored and dismissed in the last 33 years. Irregularities are irregularities and only admitting to them and rectifying the situation will make it right. The AU and SADC are members of the old gentlemen’s club that will do anything to stay in power. The leaders of the AU and SADC apply these same tactics to stay in power so they have to declare the voting as free and fair for fear that Mugabe will let the cat out of the bag and they will be exposed for voting irregularities as well. I do give praise to those brave members of SADC that have stood up and stated that the elections were marred with many irregularities. Is it not funny that the SADC members that spoke out about the irregularities did not get independence via the gun. The leaders that gained independence via the gun feel that they now own these countries. They feel that if you did not brandish a gun you cannot be a leader – what will happen in 10 years time when the ones that fought are all dead? Come on let us be realistic, Mugabe is so old he has already forgotten that we had elections last week. You can fool some of the people all the time, you can fool some of the people some of the time BUT you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Mugabe and his cronies act like spoilt brats so they can take their ball and go home because we now have many balls on the sidelines so we will not miss them and their ball.

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      Muchamama 9 years ago

      These AU SADC bodies u are refering are toothless bulldogs a high sounding nothing thats why the continent is doomed

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      Kevin Watson 9 years ago

      All the RFK Centre is saying that the irregularities as follows be investigated:
      1. The illegality in Mugabe announcing the election date’
      2. The illeaglity in his amendment of the electoral laws,
      3. The failure of Mugabe to fully implement the GPA,
      5. The failure of ZBC to give fair coverage to all parties involved in the election,
      6. Why an estimated 500 000 people were turned away from polling stations the bulk of which were in MDC strongholds.
      7. Why the voter regitration period prior to the election was not conducted for the period required at law.
      8. Why the voter registration drive in the urban areas failed to register voters as rapidly as that in the rural areas,
      9. Why with the highest literacy rate in Southern Africa it had the highest percentage of assisted voters ,
      10. Why there were uniformed Police Officers inside the polling stations in contravention of the law,
      11. Why approximately 2m excess ballot papers were printed,
      12. Why the excess ballot papers are unaccounted for,
      13. Why the voters roll was not allowed to lay open for inspection prior to the election,
      14. Why there were 838 000 voters registered twice on the voters roll (same name, same address, same bith date, same constituency and different ID numbers),
      15. Why there are 385 000 voters over the age of 85 (registering 220% of the voters over 80) and why there are 109 000 voters over the age of 100 in a country with an average lifespan of just over 50,
      16. Why the estimated 4m people in the diaspora were denied the right to vote notwithstanding the SADC rules on this and the ACHR guidelines.
      It appears that only ZANU PF, the Mugabe apologists and the spinelles folls of SADC and the AU who do not want the above investigated perhaps because they have sonmething to hide..

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    This is what everyone says except those who are benefiting from Zanupf and the ignorant ones. SADC reneged on its very Maputo Resolution. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma poured water on that resolution when she said Zimbabweans must follow their own laws and before any elections she declared them free, fair and credible. All these complaints were given to ZEC and and SADC observers but they chose to ignopre everythig as usual. As African we cant say the truth. Not a single African leader criticised Mugabe for the 2008 violence, Gukurahundi and many others. What did the AU do to Gbagbo when he openly rejected election results? No African leader criticised the Hutu when they attempted to wipe out the Tutsi in a genocide Even churches supported the Hutu! Not a single African leader criticised Banda of Malawi or even Idi Amin.

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      RFK Center is a center created to advance American interests fullstop. What ever it therefore does is to protect its national interests. Zimbabwe’s open defiance to America’s hegemony is a threat to American interests hence the Center can not celebrate ZANU PF’s thumping of their proxy.

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        Kevin Watson 9 years ago

        What utter nonsense, Zimbawe is a country where a majority of US legislators couldn’t find on a map. Most US citizens have never heard of Zimbabwe and couldn’t care less. As to threatening US hegemony they haven’t even noticed the amount of US currency taken from their financial system that is now circulating in Zimbawe. Were they to send a couple of predator drones to Zimbawe they could reduce the Zimbabwe military to rubble (if you do not believe this ask Al Quaeda).

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    they were not accredited observers, they are just beer garden people wasting their time. we did not invite them their opinion is useless, in fact worse than useless.

    they were maybe just tourists, if they were in zimbabwe at all during elections.

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    ZIMBABWE VICTIM 9 years ago

    Up to 3 MILLION disenfranchised, economic and political refugees that have been forced out of our own country by Mugabe’s failed policies, now have to try to continue to illegally scratch a living in South Africa and surrounding countries due to this Farce of an election.
    We were all hoping to go home and start our lives again in our own country in a free democracy.
    If we had been allowed to postal vote as is our right …. Zanu PF will actually have less than 15% in parliament today and that’s the REAL situation.
    As it now stands, South Africa will have to brace for a new flood of Millions of new Zimbabwean victims, that will be competing for jobs in SA.
    ” Free and Fair ” what crap.

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      Dzidzai 9 years ago

      Its sad that some people we thought had gone to school and are enlightened are sadly the most foolish and unwise busy;pursing American and British interests and not their own national interests. ITS SAD, VERY SAD INDEED.

      Pasi nezvimbwasungwata

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    Do not use an oldman for your own personal grandstanding dai vari baba vako vanoriritira zimhuri risingaguti waizwasei.zvemaelections zvapera Tsvangirai munhuwo sewe usandotuka vamwe uchidaro zvishandire zvako kwete kuba zvevazhinji

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    After all is said and done, lets leave the international community out of the picture. I’m a white African from South Africa, I was born in Africa and mt forefathers were born in Africa and a non-racist in the extreme. The problem is that democracy is still not practiced to the letter, but rather used as a political ploy to satisfy who knows who.

    I’m convinced that Africa’s woes will have to be solved in Africa by Africans and to do this there would have to be consensus within the AU – in other words a set of governance rules for the countries of Africa with no fear or favor. Any contravention of democratic or human rights by any government should be harshly dealt with by an African (AU) over site commission. No leader should be allowed to serve more than two 4year terms.

    Robert Mugabe seems to be revered by many African leaders and I cannot understand why, who the hell is Robert Mugabe – All the leaders of Africa are fully aware of his election tactics and also know full well that the 31 July elections was a fraud, yet not one African leader has the guts to stand up to the this fossil.

    Current leaders in Africa must start to realise that their days are numbered and unless they satisfy the youth, particularly the next generation, their parties will fail. The youth of to day have less interest in the history of armed or passive struggles for freedom – they will expect or even demand elevated lifestyles matched with human rights, a government that they can be proud off and practices total equality across race, gender, religion and creed.

    Enen we in South Africa have a long way to go

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      Dzidzai 9 years ago

      Don’t misrepresent the people of Africa especially Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans have just spoken loudly in the last election. The fact that what you wished happen did not happen does not mean that the process was not fair. Why do you think your views are reepresentative of Zimbabweans? Who are you? ‘A white someone in SA’? Where do you fit in in the politics of Africa and how can your views be representative of the majority who are blacks. Keep your views to yourself. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabbweans and its them alone to descide its future.

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      Dzidzai 9 years ago


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      Kevin Watson 9 years ago

      Robert Mugabe is an arrogant racist dictator who has committed genocide and crimes against humanity whilst destroying the Zimbawe economy. With apologies to Franklin Delano Rooseveldt he will reside in the halls of infamy for ever.

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    I’m sorry if I’m going to offend some people but,
    1. if after polls in the us, the zim government raises rigging concerns; can the west take that into consideration?
    2. was this kennedy body here on the ground or did they just listen to opinion from their trusted friends. why couldn’t they come? coz they are biased.
    the list can go on but as a zimbabwean who lives and works here in the country and as a polling officer who participated in the just ended election, I know better.

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    john mazwi 9 years ago

    Dont CIO have some work to do besides spending tax payers money rigging elections and putting stupid comments on all articles in the newspapers

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    elliot moyo 9 years ago

    I wish that you COI people will put up some useful work rather than waste hard earned tax payers money rigging election and putting stupid comments on all articles in the newpAPERS

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    chondofira 9 years ago

    fine what happened has happened but let us not forget that we need jobs, good salaries since we are an educated nation and we should be developing not making our country spaza shops and tuckshops. please get a life the old man is tired and zanu pf is pursuing selfish interests coupled by self enrichment in the blanket term of nationalization, whilst the majority are ailing languishing perishing in abstinate poverty and hunger.