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So it’s one week on from the Zimbabwean election and it’s been quite a week for the country… I’ll try to give a quick summary of the past week’s events as well as highlighting a human rights concern we have uncovered and an action you can take to prevent it happening again.

Firstly, let’s cover the official results of the election:

  • President Mugabe has been re-elected for a further five years with 61% of the vote in the presidential election.
  • His main rival and recent coalition partner Morgan Tsvangirai, of the MDC-T, polled 34%.
  • In the parliamentary elections, President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party gained 158 seats to the MDC-T’s 51.
  • ZANU-PF has 76% of the seats, way above the 66% majority needed to make changes to the new constitution.
  • The new constitution, which came into force in May after a 94% yes vote in the referendum, is considered more human rights friendly than its predecessor.

Unless there is a legal challenge then Robert Mugabe will be sworn in as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe on Monday 12 August (Heroes Day in Zimbabwe). The MDC has indicated that it will indeed challenge the result, after alleging widespread vote rigging. If a legal challenge is to be made, this needs to occur within seven days of the announcement of the result ie this Saturday. If that happens, then the constitutional court has 14 days to rule on whether the result stands, or whether there needs to be a re-run of the election.

Now unless you’ve been without access to media over the past week, then you’ll be aware that the Zimbabwe election has been highly controversial. This has led to a divided response from the international community. More on that in a minute. Whilst the day itself was largely calm and peaceful the MDC has cried foul and rejected the result, describing the election as a ‘huge fraud’ and a ‘sham.’

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which had the largest number of monitors on the ground during the election, questioned the credibility of the elections saying they were ‘seriously compromised by a systematic effort to disenfranchise urban voters- up to a million voters’.

The message from the regional observers, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) painted a different picture. The headline message from them was that the elections were peaceful and free (although they reserved judgement on whether they were ‘fair’ for their final reports).

The international community has been mixed in its response. South Africa, the most influential regional country, has endorsed the result. President Zuma extended his ‘profound congratulations to H E President Robert G Mugabe on his re-election as President’. He also urged ‘all political parties in Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the elections as election observers reported it to be an expression of the will of the people.’ Other key SADC countries such as Tanzania and Zambia have followed suit. The only regional country to break rank is Botswana, who called for ‘an independent audit of the just concluded electoral process in Zimbabwe...’ stating ‘There is no doubt that what has been revealed so far by our observers cannot be considered as an acceptable standard for free and fair elections in SADC’. China has also endorsed the result .The response from the EU, US and UK has been largely one of concern about the conduct of the election. Australia has taken the strongest position, calling line in calling for a rerun.

Amnesty won’t get into the debate about whether these elections were ‘free and fair’ or ‘credible’ or any other such phrase to describe a nation’s democratic processes. We do not endorse or oppose any political party and will engage with any government to emerge from these elections to address human rights violations in Zimbabwe – past and present - such as the following incident we’ve uncovered:

At least six women with 12 children aged between 16 months and 10 years have been forced to flee their homes in Mukumbura district, Mashonaland Central Province, after being threatened with violence and forcible evictions by local village heads soon after the 31 July election.  Some of the women had to leave children behind.
The six women alleged they had been targeted for refusing to follow instructions from ZANU-PF supporters to feign illiteracy, blindness or physical injury, which would have allowed someone else to ‘assist’ them by marking the ballot on their behalf (and thus compromise the secrecy of their vote.)  One of the women reported that she had first been threatened in her village two weeks before the election and reported the matter to the police but no action was taken.

The six displaced political activists told us that there are more families in the same predicament who remain stranded in the district under threat of violence.  

Please fill your details into the form below, which will automatically generate a fax to the Police Officer in command of Mashonaland Central Province.

Time will tell how the political events in Zimbabwe play out, but rest assured we will continue to monitor and report on the human rights situation on the ground.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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