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By-elections were not free and fair: Masarira

Labour Economists and African Democrats (LEAD) president, Linda Masarira has said the Saturday by-elections, which were characterised by a low voter turnout, were not free and fair although her party accepted defeat.

Zimbabwe held by-elections over the weekend to fill 117 local authority and 28 parliamentary seats that had fallen vacant over the past two years.

In a statement, Masarira said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) failed to disseminate key and critical information to candidates and chief election agents in real-time.

“ZEC really needs to reform and have professional non-polarised staff working courteously with all stakeholders,” she said.

Masarira said her party accepted the results even though the pre-electoral period was marred by a lot of irregularities.

“This is because we together with other political players had to stand guard from ballot processes and secure the safety of our votes during the process. The elections were not free, neither were they fair nor credible because the responsible institution short-changed both the voter and political players,” she said.

The LEAD president said her party is now putting more effort into educating the nation on the importance of voting and participating in governance issues.

“As LEAD we are now putting more effort in recruitment, organizing, mobilization, and educating the nation on the importance of voting and participating in governance issues. ‘Small’ as we are, we are David and our case is going to be a David versus Goliath case in Africa.  This struggle is a unique struggle that needs a unique approach by unique leaders. Our war is against poverty. Our struggle is for socioeconomic rights. Our mandate is to democratize, depolarize, devolution, and develop our Zimbabwe,” she said.

Masarira added that her team was doing in-depth research in all constituencies and wards.

“Now that we know there is appalling voter apathy, which on its own is a critical insight that we are grabbing and will use to our advantage.  Whilst others are celebrating, we have assigned five teams on the ground to do research on why are people not going to vote in mass, why does this apathy cut across all divides, how to restore confidence in the electoral process to the electorates, how to ignite these dormant votes to our advantage and what do we lack that can strengthen our cause and struggle,” she said.

She added: “We are expecting our teams to be done in a month’s time, then we will interrogate the Information and come up with programs that emanate from an informed platform.”

Masarira said the by-elections brought the necessary step towards success.

“They are a great eye-opener to those who deserve to see. No clever strategies can sustain us but informed research-rich strategies.”

She added that they believe that they have what it takes to be the third voice in Zimbabwe’s political economy and the third force which will transform the political arena from politics of personalities to politics of ideology and from politics of patronage to politics of issues and development.

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