in Stories

Why Botswana did not accept Zimbabwe’s election results

Botswana, which sent a 50-member delegation to observe the Zimbabwe presidential elections run-off of 2008, said it did not recognise the results of the elections because they were marred by violence which did not allow for free and fair elections.

The country’s observer mission comprised of representatives of the three political parties represented in the National Assembly, civic bodies, civil servants and academics.

It was part of the 413 Southern African Development Community observer mission from 12 out of the 14 SADC countries.

The Botswana team said it had observed a high level of intimidation and politically motivated violence that escalated with the approach to the run-off elections leading to injuries to persons, internal and external displacements of people, abductions, loss of property, loss of lives, theft and looting.

“In short, the mayhem observed by the team had the effect of depriving the people of Zimbabwe of the opportunity to fully participate in the electoral process.”

It also said that some observers were subjected to harassment. On different occasions, some members of the team were chased away from rallies addressed by ZANU-PF and prevented from carrying out their observer duties.

In some instances, observers were threatened with violence and instructed to leave such rallies. The team was in particular singled out for harassment on account of perceptions that Botswana was anti-ZANU-PF.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08GABORONE553, ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS REPORT

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08GABORONE553

2008-07-07 16:13

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Gaborone

O 071613Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5110

INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

AMEMBASSY ABUJA

AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA

AMEMBASSY CAIRO

AMEMBASSY HARARE

AMEMBASSY LONDON

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

AMEMBASSY PARIS

AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS GABORONE 000553

 

 

DEPARTMENT FOR AF AND AF/S

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL PGOV AU BC ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS REPORT

 

REF: GABORONE 547

 

 

1. The Botswana Observer Team in cooperation with the SADC Election

Observer Mission (SEOM)has shared with the Embassy the official text

of the statement of the Botswana Observer Team regarding the June

27, 2008 Zimbabwe Presidential run-off elections.

 

Begin Verbatim Botswana Observer Team Text:

 

On behalf of the Botswana Team that took part in the observation of

the Zimbabwe Presidential run off elections I would like to start

off by thanking the Government of Botswana for having given us the

opportunity to be part of the SADC Election Observer Mission

otherwise known as SEOM.

 

Due to time constraints what we are going to present here today is a

brief summary of our report to the Botswana Government concerning

our observations, findings, and conclusions as we saw the situation

on the ground.

 

The main objective of our mission was to ensure that the Zimbabwe

Presidential run-off elections were held in accordance with the SADC

Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. These

principles constitute an essential tool for determining the

validity, integrity and credibility of elections. The expectation

was that at the end we should be able to make a determination as to

whether or not the elections were free and fair. Briefly stated

these principles are as follows:

 

? Full participation of the citizens and political process

? Freedom of association

? Political tolerance

? Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state

media

? Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for

? Independence of the judiciary and the impartiality of the

electoral institutions, just to mention but a few

 

The team which represented Botswana was made up of 50 persons drawn

from the three political parties represented in the National

Assembly, Civic Bodies, Civil Servants and Academics.

 

I believe ladies and gentlemen as you can see the team is well

represented in terms of gender balance, age and background. All in

all, the SADC Observer Mission had 413 observers from 12 of the 14

SADC member states. You will note that the number was quite large

compared to the number sent in the March 29 elections. The

Government of Botswana also availed 8 vehicles to be used by the

Mission. The increase in the number was to allow for a better

coverage of the election process taking into account the nature of

these elections. You will note with the benefit of hindsight ladies

and gentlemen, that this approach by Government has benefited both

the Mission and SADC as well as all those concerned about the

situation in Zimbabwe. Because of the numbers, we were able to cover

all the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe and this gave us the opportunity

to observe first hand what transpired during the run-up to the

elections.

 

OBSERVATIONS AND FINDINGS

 

Coming to the observations and findings I will start with the

campaign process.

 

1. CAMPAIGN PROCESS

 

In terms of the SADC principles, contesting parties are entitled to

equitable access to the state controlled media. We however observed

that the state media prominently featured ZANU-PF political

advertisements and messages to the exclusion of MDC-T. In the few

instances where reference was made to the MDC-T in the state media,

the messages were ZANU-PF sponsored and intended to disparage,

de-campaign and discredit the MDC-T. A case in point was a TV

advertisement depicting Morgan Tsvangirai’s head alongside those of

some three known heads of state from the

Western world and is entitled The Loser’s Club. On inquiry by the

observers as to why MDC-T was not covered, the Zimbabwe Electoral

Commission responded by saying ZBH which controls the state media

declined to flight MDC advertisements on the basis that they were

uncomfortable with the language used.

 

I will now move on to the observations we made under the right to

vote and be voted for. Voting in Zimbabwe is in two ways, there is

postal voting which is conducted some days prior to the actual

voting day and the voting that takes place on polling day. Postal

voting is intended for members of the disciplined forces, foreign

missions and any other applicants whose nature of duty may take them

away from their wards on polling day. Under postal voting ZEC informed

the observers that in the March 29 elections 8000 people had applied

for postal voting, but that in the Presidential run-off elections this

number had increased to 64,000. The Observer Teams were however, not

able to observe the postal voting process because information about

it was not forthcoming from ZEC. Even where the Observer Teams got

information about postal voting taking place they were denied access

to the polling stations by the Commanders at the Police Stations

where most of this postal voting was taking place. When the Observer

Teams enquired about this with ZEC we were informed that it was

within the discretion of the Commanding officers to either grant or

refuse such authority. Worth noting however, was that the Observer

Teams received reports that postal voting took place in the

presence, and under the directions of Commanding Officers who

instructed their juniors to vote for the ZANU-PF candidate or risk

losing their jobs.

 

2. HOLDING OF RALLIES

 

The Team observed that the holding of rallies was a preserve of the

ruling ZANU-PF, whilst the MDC-T political rallies were

systematically disrupted by the ZANU-PF militia and youth. For

instance, on Sunday 22nd June 2008, the Team witnessed first hand

how a planned “star” rally organized by Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai was

prevented from taking place by a group of youth wearing ZANU-PF

regalia armed with sticks, stones and sjamboks. They chased and

indiscriminately beat all the people in the vicinity of the venue

where the rally was taking place. All this was done in full view of

SADC observers including some members present here. Riot police

passively witnessed these attacks making no attempts whatsoever to

intervene. After completing their task these youth retreated to the

ZANU-PF headquarters where they were treated to food.

 

Other incidents of politically motivated violence by the Team

included the following:

 

People believed to be associated with the MDC-T party were

subjected to severe beatings, harassment, torture, killings and

general threats of violence. The Police also appeared not to be

enforcing law and order, and the ZANU-PF youth and militia mounted

illegal road blocks, forcing people to attend ZANU-PF rallies and

had bases where they tortured perceived opponents under the guise of

re-educating them. In contrast ZANU-PF supporters received the full

protection of the Police as their rallies were never disrupted nor

did they report any incidents of harassment to the Observer Teams.

 

3. LACK OF RESPECT FOR THE ELECTORAL PROCESS

 

During the campaigns, the observer mission noted with concern the

uncompromising positions adopted by the contesting political

parties/candidates to accept the outcome of the electoral process.

The MDC-T Presidential candidate Mr. Tsvangirai, on the one hand

made it clear that he will not accept a win by ZANU-PF Presidential

candidate, Mr. Mugabe, citing politically motivated violence among

other things. On the other hand, ZANU-PF President Mr. Mugabe made

it clear at most political rallies and meetings he addressed that he

would not accept the outcome of the election if the MDC-T

presidential candidate won. His reasons were also supported by the

leadership of the party, the Military and Police Commanders.

 

4. POLITICALLY MOTIVATED VIOLENCE

 

The team observed high level of intimidation and politically

motivated violence that escalated with the approach to the run-off

elections leading to injuries to persons, internal and external

displacements of people, abductions, loss of property, loss of

lives, theft and looting. In short, the mayhem observed by the team

had the effect of depriving the people of Zimbabwe of the

opportunity to fully participate in the electoral process.

 

5. POLLING DAY VOTING

 

Generally speaking there was an apparently calm atmosphere on voting

day. But beneath this calmness was a noticeable voter intimidation

where voters were required to record the Serial Number on their

ballot papers and later submit that information to functionaries of

the ruling ZANU-PF. One actually came and asked where the serial

number is. This was intended to induce some voters into believing

that the information pertaining to how they voted would be

accessible and used against them.

 

In some rural polling stations, Chiefs/Headmen were used to record

the names of their subjects who were then required, against their

will, to go and queue behind their chief/ headman on voting day and

vote in a pre-determined sequence. In this way voters were made to

believe that their voting patterns were capable of bein verified as

to whether they indeed voted for ZANU-PF. We noticed a high number of

those who sai they could not read and write and in such cases tey

were “assisted” by the Presiding Officers in he presence of two

other Plling Officers and a Police officer.

 

6. WITHDRAWAL OF MR. MORGAN TSVANGIRAI FROM THE

RACE

 

It is now common knowledge that on 22 June 2008 Mr. Tsvangirai

announced his withdrawal from the Presidential race citing among

other things the prevalence and escalating politically motivated

violence. It is also common knowledge that ZEC did not accept his

withdrawal from the elections arguing that it was not in accordance

with the Zimbabwe electoral laws and regulations. The bottom line,

however, is that for all intents and purposes the election

effectively became a one-horse race, pitting Mr. Robert Mugabe

against a nonparticipating Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai. It is worth

noting, however, that even after Mr. Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from

the race the level of

violence did not go down. Voter harassment and intimidation,

beatings and displacements continued unabated.

 

7. HARASSMENT OF OBSERVERS

 

The Team noted that some Observers were subjected to

harassment. On different occasions, some members of the Team were

chased away from rallies addressed by ZANU-PF and

prevented from carrying out their observer duties. In some

instances, Observers were threatened with violence and instructed to

leave such rallies. The Team was in particular singled out for

harassment on account of perceptions that Botswana was

anti-ZANU-PF.

 

CONCLUSION

 

The level of intimidation and political violence that escalated with

the approach of the June 27 Presidential run-off elections has been

clearly catalogued. There were many victims of violence in the form

of injuries, displacements, abductions, loss of property, and loss

of lives. The atrocities have been corroborated and constitute the

necessary evidence to conclude that the credibility and integrity of

the election process was compromised.

 

Notwithstanding the apparent orderly conduct that prevailed on

voting day, the entire election process was marred by a wave of

violence. The Team therefore concludes that the Presidential run-off

election was not free and fair and does not represent the will of

the people of Zimbabwe.

 

End Verbatim Botswana Observer Team Text.

 

DROUIN

(31 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment