Mutoko North By-election Neither Free Nor Fair – Zimbabwe Peace Project

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said that the Mutoko by-election was marred with a plethora of irregularities. It thus failed to meet the minimum standards of free and fair elections.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) declared ZANU PF’s Rumbidzai Nyabote the winner with 11 141 votes. MDC’s Boniface Mushore garnered 1 329 while Edson Mugoma of NCA got 94 votes.

In its report, the Jestina Mukoko-led ZPP observed that the by-election was marred by some

… suspicious high numbers of assisted voters who were attributed to ‘paddocking’ where villagers inwards opt to be assisted for fear of victimisation if the results are against the ruling party.

The ward-based voting system makes it easy to identify voting patterns in a specific area.

Unlike in the harmonised elections where there was an elections command centre, there was no such mechanism in the by-election leaving villagers with nowhere to report cases of intimidation and harassment.

There were cases of vote buying through food and other aid distribution that is partisan. Traditional leaders openly took political sides by being polling agents and wearing Zanu PF regalia.

The failure to make improvements as recommended in the various reports signals an intention by the government to continue mismanaging elections to maintain the ruling party advantage.

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