During the recent parliamentary by-elections held on February 3, the ruling Zanu PF party secured victories in all six contested constituencies, strengthening its presence in the National Assembly. However, amidst the electoral triumph, reports emerged of troubling incidents of intimidation and harassment, particularly in the Seke constituency.
Allegations surfaced regarding the interference with independent election observers deployed by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) in Seke. These incidents, attributed to purported Zanu PF agents provocateurs, raised concerns about the fairness and transparency of the electoral process.
One observer, accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), recounted witnessing a local Zanu PF councillor engaging in unlawful campaigning near a polling station in Mabhawuwa business center. Despite regulations prohibiting such activities, the councillor openly urged voters to support the ruling party candidate, invoking his involvement in previous land invasions.
Moreover, instances of intimidation and harassment targeted at election observers were reported across various polling stations in Seke. At Ruwa Country Club, a female observer was accosted and threatened by unidentified individuals, forcing her to abandon her duties. Similarly, observers at other locations, including Musoveri Methodist Church and Sundai Makonde, faced similar intimidation tactics, including verbal threats and forced removal from polling stations.
These incidents not only contravene electoral laws but also undermine the integrity of the electoral process and the fundamental rights of observers. According to Section 40G of the Electoral Act, accredited observers are entitled to monitor and report on the electoral process without fear of intimidation or interference.
Furthermore, international standards recognize election observers as human rights defenders and emphasize the importance of protecting their rights and freedoms.
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