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Slim Chances for Credible Elections

Slim Chances for Credible Elections

Published: 25 July 2013

Photo: Trevor Davies/IPS

“As things stand currently, the chances of having free, fair and credible elections are slim, particularly given the shortcomings of security sector reforms and reforms in other sectors.” – Dewa Mavhinga, Senior Researcher, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch

It would be foolish to predict either the results of the July 31 Zimbabwe elections or the extent to which the election and its aftermath will be accompanied by violence, as in 2008. But the conditions preceding the election make it clear that it can hardly be “free and fair” although it may be judged “credible enough” for reasons of expediency by some, possibly including the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The sober truth is that, after years of shared government under the Global Political Agreement, neither the dominant ZANU-PF nor the divided opposition parties hold the confidence of the electorate or civil society. SADC countries and civil society in neighboring countries as well as Zimbabwe have pressed for full implementation of that agreement before elections are held, but with only limited success. Whatever the announced outcome of the elections, there will be no easy road ahead.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin, sent out by e-mail and available on the web at, contains excerpts from testimony before the U.S. Congress by Dewa Mavhinga of Human Rights Watch on the status of human rights and security reform in Zimbabwe in the period preceding the election.

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin released today, not sent out by e-mail but available on the web at contains two parallel civil society reports, from the Research and Advocacy Unit and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, with analyses of the Zimbabwe Voters’ Roll being used for the July 31 election. Also included is a statement by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition following the first round of “special voting” by Zimbabwe security forces.

Both of today’s Bulletins focus on the current situation preceding elections, documenting the absence of the minimum conditions for a fair election. For an analysis that probes the background to this situation, read the review by Tim Scarnecchia of the new book from Solidarity Peace Trust, The Hard Road To Reform: The Politics Of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement, edited by Brain Raftopolous. / direct URL:

The Solidarity Peace Trust book is available on Kindle at The introduction and much of the first chapter can be read as a preview on Amazon.

Recent news of interest includes:

“Zanu-PF ‘diamond whistleblower’ Chindori-Chininga dies in car crash” Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa, June 21, 2013 direct URL:

“Zuma sacrifices top aide in yet another Zimbabwe capitulation,” Simon Allison, Daily Maverick, July 22, 2013 direct URL:

For additional current news see, among many other sources, and The first has news and commentary from a wide range of opposition sources, while the second includes among its sources the ZANU-PF linked Herald newspaper.