Civic groups react to ‘shocking’ election outcome

As the scale of the irregularities that marred the July 31st election continues to unravel, some civil society groups are saying the MDC should have boycotted the process.

The MDC-T has already rejected the result of what its leader Morgan Tsvangirai called a ‘sham election’ which lacked credibility from the start.

Speaking at a press conference in Bulawayo a day after the elections when it was becoming clear that ZANU PF was heading for victory, rights activist Jenni Williams said the MDC formations should have refused to participate.

Williams, who is head of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) said: “The progressive parties should have put their heads together and refused to participate in these sham elections. They handed over victory to ZANU PF.”

The conference was organised by various Bulawayo-based civic groups who later issued a statement saying the election cannot be “judged on the July 31 alone or on the ballots cast or the peaceful day, but must be judged on the whole process from Constitutional Court judgment to the day we get the final results.”

Rashid Mahiya, director at violence monitoring group Heal Zimbabwe Trust, said that journey from the ConCourt judgement has been flawed and pre-determined, hence the disputed outcome.

He said his organisation was happy that this election was not tainted with the violence of the magnitude of the 2008 elections, but added that the absence of violence was not a reflection of the absence of intimidation or fear.

“In the rural areas many people have told us that they did not participate exercise their free will in this election. And that says a lot about the credibility of an election,” Mahiya said.

He added: “In hindsight, the MDC should not have participated in this election given that the conditions necessary for a free and fair poll did not exist and had not been met as required by the Global Political Agreement election roadmap.”

Mahiya said the general feeling at the moment was that of shock and disbelief at the magnitude of the election fraud by ZANU PF.

He added that the answer now lay with the people of Zimbabwe themselves, and not regional body SADC, which has already given the outcome the thumbs-up. “We should be thinking of how to counter this brazen poll theft,” Mahiya said.

Poll observers The Zimbabwe Election Support Network was the first local group to condemn the polls, saying the exclusion of millions of eligible voters did not speak to a credible and legitimate process.

Political parties have said that their participation was driven by the overwhelming desire for change expressed by Zimbabweans.

MDC-T president Morgani Tsvangirai said last week that his party participated in the poll with a heavy heart, driven by the desire to see change for the majority of the population that has suffered 33 years of ZANU PF misrule.

That suffering is set to begin all over again following the successful rigging of the election by President Mugabe and his party.

Asked why the MDC-T and others participated in an electoral process which from the very start bore all the hallmarks of ZANU PF rigging, Simba Makoni told this station Monday that politics was about risk-taking.

He said: “We took a risk which we thought was on the side of the people. The sentiment among the people was in favour of change, and if we had boycotted the risk would have been greater than participating under protest.”

Makoni urged Zimbabweans not to despair or lose hope, saying the MDC-T and its partners were taking all the necessary steps to “expose the extent of the rigging in the hope that the whole result will be nullified.”

The National Constitutional Assembly, led by Lovemore Madhuku, on Monday issued a statement calling on the MDC-T to concede defeat and move on. – SW Radio Africa

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