Charges Dropped Against ZESN and ERC Staff Accused of Election Violations

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HARARE – In a surprise move, the Zimbabwean government has dropped all charges against 39 staff members from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Election Resource Centre (ERC), who were detained on August 23, 2023, for allegedly breaching the Electoral Act.

The charges were dismissed due to “insufficient evidence”, which is code for “we couldn’t find anything to pin on them, so we’re just going to let them go”. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) had alleged that these individuals were part of a sinister plot to… wait for it… count votes and announce election results! The horror!

The arrest of the 36 suspects, including ZESN and ERC workers, on August 23, 2023, was widely condemned by human rights groups and opposition parties. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) had alleged that these individuals had set up bases to tabulate voting statistics with the intention of unlawfully announcing election results and transmitting them to a foreign country.

The ZRP had claimed that the arrested persons were part of a plot to preempt the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which is the sole constitutionally obligated body to announce election results. However, the lack of evidence has led to the charges being dropped, bringing an end to a controversial chapter in Zimbabwe’s 2023 electoral process.

The development is seen as a victory for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, and a blow to the government’s efforts to silence dissenting voices.

The ZESN and ERC staff members are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief, knowing that they won’t have to face the music for their “crimes” of trying to ensure a free and fair election. And the government can go back to its usual business of… well, whatever it is they do.

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