As part of tactics to combat election manipulation, the Democratic Union of Zimbabwe (DUZ) has urged voters to remain at their polling stations after they vote to make sure that results are announced and posted on time.
This sentiment comes after concerns of electoral rigging threaten upcoming polls to be held in a few months, while DUZ party leader, Robert Chapman stated that Zimbabwe has not had free and fair elections in a ‘very long time,’ so he would not be surprised if rigging occurs.
For this reason, Chapman has urged people to do their part and protect their votes by committing themselves to four days of the election cycle to stop electoral fraud and rigging that could negatively impact Zimbabwe for the next five years.
“We are literally asking citizens to commit for four days, not even a full four days. One is registration, register to vote, even if it takes you the whole day, we are asking you to stand in line and get that registration. Two, we want you to actually go cast your vote on voting day. Three and four – stay there. There might be a day or two, where you are waiting for the V11 forms to come but stay there at the polling stations and make sure the result comes out in that polling station,” said the DUZ leader when asked about the party’s strategies against rigging.
Chapman stated this measure was required because people need to look beyond what is happening now.
“Five years is a long time between 2023 and 2028 and if we miss this opportunity now, we can’t really complain much until we get to 2028,” he said.
The DUZ leader also declared it was a “fact” that politicians had failed to implement electoral reforms and that citizens now faced the problem of holding free and fair elections.
“This country has not really sat on free and fair elections for a very long time so I’m not surprised if rigging is coming. If people are surprised, they have been asleep at the wheel and that is the honest truth. They are just sleeping at it or are used to it,” he said, noting the incumbency was “enjoying the state coffers and state money and then certain things are just going through Parliament and passing. We can’t do that anymore.”
Part of the difficulty in Zimbabwe, according to Chapman, is that people “get to the point of reaction type politics, even reaction type business decisions.”
“When I travel throughout the country and ask people, ‘did you expect them to rig the elections?’ They will answer ‘yes’ then the question then becomes ‘why were reforms not put in place, either through the Government of National Unity (from 2009 to 2013) where the opposition had a majority in Parliament? Why did we give up certain rights that were supposed to be given under the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).”
Even the previous election in 2018, whose presidential results were “very close,” according to Chapman, it was evident there were problems there.
In the most recent election, ZEC changed the presidential election result three times, while the opposition party at that time – the MDC Alliance, challenged that outcome at the Constitutional Court, claiming the electoral commission conspired with Zanu PF to manipulate the election results in favour of the incumbent, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who received 50.8 percent of the vote to Nelson Chamisa’s 44.3 percent.
The Constitutional Court ruled that President Mnangagwa was legitimately elected.
“The issue is how the result was then presented to the people but nothing was put through. There was no process even for people to yell, push inside or even galvanise citizens. Now we are in the eleventh hour asking ourselves what are we going to do. The answer is going to be very difficult to do anything about it,” Chapman said.
For the DUZ presidential candidate, looking at solutions rather than spending so much time on the problem was crucial.
“We are starting to look at solutions and strategies that we can put in place to win and galvanise the votes we need to. The most critical part is we need our citizens to register to vote, they need to take advantage of that. There has to be some part of it, where it is not just left to the politicians, not just left to one or two people. There is a part of us that has to take responsibility,” Chapman said.