Zimbabwe is headed for a zombie election
As Zimbabwe prepares to hold harmonized elections on August 23, 2023, citizen observers are reporting massive vote buying, especially in the Bulawayo province where candidates of the ruling ZANU-PF political party are opening up and grading feeder roads, providing handouts to the voters including the elderly, and providing free Wi-Fi hotspots for the youth.
Secrets Known has learned that one of the leading vote buyers observed on the ground are ZANU-PF candidates including the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Mthuli Ncube. Traditional leaders have been “bought” and turned into campaign agents by ZANU-PF party to peddle propaganda and misinformation to cajole the electorate into voting for it.
There are several reported cases of misuse of government projects to advance the candidates of individual ZANU-PF candidates. Projects such as opening of health centers, food handouts, and grading feeder roads which are funded by the national budgets, are being personalized as personal contributions to the electorate.
In addition, the laws have been instrumentalized against opposition candidates again in Bulawayo province where all the CCC party flagbearers are set to be invalidated in the Supreme Court following a petition by the ZANU-PF regime. In other words, the entire Bulawayo may end up with no opposition candidate.
Kasukuwere Nomination Invalidated
Already, a former ally of former president Robert Mugabe, Saviour Kasukuwere has been removed from the list of nominated presidential candidates after a Supreme Court judgment. Hence, Kasukuwere will not appear on the ballot paper to challenge Emerson Mnangagwa in the presidential elections.
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira who challenged in courts of law, the nomination fees of US $20,000 for presidential and US $1000 for parliamentary candidates as her party is struggling to fund all the candidates, is also no longer a presidential candidate.
There are concerns about the electoral court being rendered redundant because all the cases challenging the nomination of opposition candidates have been taken to other courts namely, the High Court and/or Supreme Court.
Citizen observers in Zimbabwe have further informed Secrets Known that opposition supporters during campaigns face relentless surveillance, harassment, and arrest. Among these were nine supporters of the Republican Party that were arrested for reportedly speaking out on issues that were not going well in government.
These actions which are backed by the newly enacted Patriotic Act, are having a chilling effect on the ability of the electorate to pose critical questions to political candidates. Some citizen observer organisations are having trouble convincing citizens to enroll as observers for fear of being targeted and arrested.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Laptops Stolen
Meanwhile, the offices of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) were broken into and laptops containing sensitive electoral information were stolen. Secrets Known suspects that that was a state security operation disguised as a burglary.