Zimbabwe election: A guide to rigging allegations

Nomsa Maseko reports on alleged vote rigging

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has been declared the winner of the 31 July elections, with 61% of the vote and his Zanu-PF party gaining a two-thirds majority in parliament, but the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has claimed massive fraud and says it will go to court.

International opinion on the poll is sharply divided with Western countries generally condemning it, while most African leaders - except Botswana - have congratulated Mr Mugabe on his re-election.

Western observers were barred from the election. Monitors from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) praised the poll for being peaceful but still noted several irregularities. Zanu-PF has denied allegations of fraud.

AU mission head Olusegun Obasanjo said he had never seen a perfect election and that the discrepancies were not large enough to affect the result - Mr Mugabe gained 938,085 more votes than his rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

The BBC News website looks at the complaints.

Voter registration:

The main bone of contention has been the voters' roll and what a local observer group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and its 7,000 observers, said was a "systematic effort to disenfranchise an estimated one million voters".

A voter registration official Registration was apparently a long-winded process in urban areas

Zesn says that in rural areas - Zanu-PF's heartland - 99.97% of voters were registered compared to 67.94% of voters in urban areas, where the MDC has stronger support.

MDC MP Eddie Cross says Zanu-PF "drew up lists of people and handed them in for registration", whilst it is alleged that urban voters had to go through a lengthy process to register.

But Mr Obasanjo, a former Nigerian president, rejected this.

"We had an early team of African mission observers here from 15 June and what they reported was that anybody who wanted to register registered and there was no complaint at that time," he told al-Jazeera television.

He also said he was satisfied with official explanations about the apparent discrepancy between rural and urban voters and that complaints about the voters' roll should have been made before votes were cast.

Duplicate and aged voters:

One of the reasons why complaints may not have been lodged earlier was the late publication of the electoral roll by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

The AU mission said the roll was available two days before voting "rather late for meaningful inspection and verification by voters, parties and candidates to take place".

It was only made available in its entirety to the MDC on the eve of voting after the party applied for a court order - but no electronic copies have been made available, which the registrar-general of voters told the AU was due to financial and time constraints.

On the voters' roll, the MDC says it has found 838,000 entries with the same name, address and date of birth but different ID number, 350,000 people who are more than 85 years old and 109,000 aged over 100 - including a 135-year-old army officer. The BBC has seen a copy of a constituency roll for Mount Pleasant in the capital, Harare, with several duplicate names listed.

A copy of a section of the voters' roll showing duplicate names, birth dates. The full surname and exact date of birth have been blurred for data protection. A scanned copy of a section of the voters' roll showing duplicate names. Full surnames and exact dates of birth have been blurred

Zimbabwe has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world, with the average person not living beyond 51 years of age.

Assisted voting:

Assisted voting is intended to help the illiterate or the infirm cast their ballots.

According to the UN, Zimbabwe is the most literate country in Africa with a literacy rate of more than 90%, but the AU observers noted a worryingly "high number of assisted voters in many polling stations nationwide".

Zimbabwe poll results 2013

Presidential:

  • Robert Mugabe, Zanu-PF - 61%, 2,110,434 votes
  • Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC - 34%, 1,172,349 votes

Parliamentary:

  • Zanu-PF - 160 seats (up 61 seats from 2008)
  • MDC - 49 seats (down 51 seats from 2008)

Zesn said it was more marked in rural areas where at 49% of polling stations more than 25 people were assisted to vote as opposed to 5% of urban polling stations.

The AU mission gave the example of Muzarabani district in Mashonaland Central, where it observed 97 voters being assisted out of 370 assisted at one station, 77 out of 374 at a second station and 85 out of 374 at a third station.

The MDC alleges that in Muzarabani North, more than half of the 17,400 voters were assisted.

Party secretary-general Tendai Biti said literate people were told to claim they were illiterate so that they could be "assisted by Zanu-PF people". Zanu-PF has denied such allegations, saying the MDC was a bad loser.

Rejected voters:

The AU said it had noted "with great concern the high incidence of voters who were turn away at polling stations". It was "a widespread phenomenon", it said.

Start Quote

I was turned away from four schools”

End Quote Mabvuku-Tafara constituency resident

Zesn again remarked on the contrast between rural and urban areas - with 82% of urban polling turning away potential voters "for reasons which include names not appearing on the voters' roll and turning up at the wrong ward for voting". At rural polling stations only 38% of polling stations rejected voters.

A resident of the Harare constituency of Mabvuku-Tafara told the crowd-sourcing site Zimelection2013 they had checked they were on the voters' roll on the myzimvote.com site said: "I was turned away from four schools… they directed me to community hall where many others with the same problem. They took some of our IDs, checked them on the computer, and said some of us were on the roll, and some were not. They said they were too tired (at 11.30 am) to do anything about it. People got angry, but they threatened police beatings and then they shut the doors."

But Zimbabwe's registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede said "the numbers of people who are turned away has nothing to do with the condition of the voters' roll" and denied allegations that an Israeli firm was involved in manipulating the document.

Extra ballot papers:

The number of ballot papers printed was 8.7 million, 35% more than the number of registered voters - 6.4 million. The AU said this was "significantly higher than international best practices" which are between 5% and 10% and "raises concerns of accountability of unused ballots".

A Zimbabwean voter dips their finger into ink after voting Voters had to dip their little finger in ink to stop them voting twice

A significant numbers of ballot booklets for the local government vote had missing ballot papers "and were not serially identified".

The regional body Sadc - with 573 observers, said that Zec said the missing papers "could be attributed to a printing error".

Another printing error occurred on a MP ballot in Chipinge South in Manicaland where a Zanu-PF candidate's photo was put next to the MDC candidate's name. Voting at the station was stopped.

Polling stations:

The AU mission said that the late publication of the final list of polling stations, "barely 48 hours to the opening of polls", may have "contributed significantly to the high number of voters who were turned away for being at the wrong polling stations".

The UK foreign secretary also said he was concerned that extra polling stations were added on election day.

Village intimidation:

There have been numerous reports, not noted by the AU and Sadc observers, of traditional leaders lining up villagers, making a note of their ID numbers and sending them to specific polling stations to vote.

On voting day the BBC reported this happening in the Midlands districts of Bikita, Mwenezi and Gutu, according to villagers, MDC polling agents and local election observers. The voters were allegedly given voting numbers as if to cross-check who they had voted for.

Zimbabweans wait in line as they prepare to cast their ballots at a polling station 60km north of Harare Electoral officials were criticised for publishing the list of polling stations late

In Manicaland, Zimelections2013 received a verified report from Chipinge South that "voters have also been arranged in groups by headman". Another verified report to the site said: "Headman Chinyamukwakwa… threatening villagers that they will be evicted from the area if they vote MDC".

The MDC also alleges that hundreds of thousands of people were resettled in "strategic areas" in preparation for the poll.

Registration slips:

People in possession of registration slips, whose names did not appear on the voters' roll, were allowed to vote, which Sadc said was in line with electoral procedures.

Zimbabwe election observers

  • Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn) - 7,000 observers on the ground
  • African Union (AU) - 60 observers on the ground
  • Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) - 573 observers on the ground

But the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, which is allied to the MDC, said "the arrests of people with fake voter registration slips means that there is a possibility of thousands of fake voters having voted throughout the country".

Zimbabwe's Daily News reported that a team of 20 Zanu-PF supporters had been detained at Harare's Hatfield police station for distributing fake voter registration slips. The MDC said the scam was widespread - Zec said it was investigating the incident, but said it was unlikely to affect the credibility of the whole election.

The MDC said that there was no way of confirming if a voter was resident in a specific constituency when presenting a registration slip, which made it possible for someone to vote in any area, enabling Zanu-PF to swamp targeted seats.

Bussed in voters:

A video of voting in the Mount Pleasant polling station in the capital, Harare, shows voters allegedly being bussed in to vote.

A Sadc observing watch police vote More police are alleged to have registered to vote than are on the state payroll

Mr Biti was filmed at the polling station alleging the voters were from rural areas and some were police recruits.

Voters are shown getting off the bus, hiding their faces from the camera. The bus driver refused to say exactly where he had driven from and accused Mr Biti of intimidation when questioned further.

The privately-owned Daily News paper reported that in the upmarket area of Gunhill in Harare, "hundreds of police recruits" were bussed in to vote towards the end of the day. One unnamed youth told the paper some people were brought in from farms and rural areas and paid "at least $10 each and there was lots of food and drink".

Media:

Zimbabwe voters' roll The voters' roll has not been provided in an electronic form to the MDC

The AU and Sadc both deplored the polarisation and bias of the media during the elections.

State-run media are widely seen as supportive of President Mugabe and Zanu-PF. State television ZBC carried live broadcasts of President Mugabe's provincial rallies and no live coverage of Mr Tsvangirai's campaign.

Most privately owned newspapers are sympathetic to Mr Tsvangirai and the MDC. However, the majority of Zimbabweans cannot afford to buy newspapers.

The only non-state broadcasters which have been granted licences are close to Zanu-PF, meaning many Zimbabweans only saw and heard negative coverage of Mr Tsvangirai and praise for Mr Mugabe during the campaign.

Security forces:

The uniformed services, whose leaders traditionally support Zanu-PF, voted two weeks earlier in a special vote as they were to be on duty on the election.

Sadc said that it took note of discrepancies raised by some about the "actual number of disciplined forces in the payroll versus registered numbers for Special Vote".

For instance, the official figure for the police force was 33,000 but 60,000 were registered to vote during the special vote.

Compare 2013 parliamentary election results with 2008
2013 results
2008 results

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