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Zimbabweans Claim Parly By-Elections Marred By Voter Intimidation

Irene Petras (second from left) said the just-ended parliamentary by-elections were hit by voter intimidation. (Photo: Thomas Chiripasi)

Some opposition parties, Harare residents and election observers say Zimbabwe’s just-ended parliamentary polls in 16 constituencies were marred by lack of transparency and voter intimidation.

Results announced Thursday by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission indicated that President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party won all the seats in rural areas and cities, which had since 1999, been under the control of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change.

Tsvangirai’s party and other MDC formations, citing lack of electoral reforms, boycotted the parliamentary by-elections meant to fill seats left vacant following the recalling of some MDC Renewal Team lawmakers.

Zanu PF was pitted against small parties that got few votes in each constituency, leaving some of the independent candidates like Albert Mukararirwa, who was contesting the Headlands seat, also crying foul.

Some Harare residents like Patrick Mamutse of Kambuzuma, said Zanu PF’s victory in yesterday’s by-elections does not change anything in their livelihoods because the ruling party already has a majority in parliament.

These sentiments were echoed by Maxwell Tederera of Kuwadzana high density suburb.

At the same time, director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Irene Petras, whose organization monitored the by-elections under the umbrella of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network or ZESN, said they recorded a number of election irregularities in yesterday’s polls – chief among them – voter intimidation.

ZESN director Rindai Chipfunde Vava said a lot needs to be done to improve the electoral process in Zimbabwe.

The MDC-T praised the electorate for heeding its call to boycott the polls following yesterday’s low voter turn-out in most constituencies.

The party’s secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora, said his party did not donate the seats to Zanu PF by not participating in the polls.

Mwonzora added that his party is working hard to ensure that the reforms it is calling for are implemented before the 2018 elections.

Zanu PF’s victory means that the MDC-T has surrendered its political space, at least for now, to the ruling party in constituencies that it has been controlling for more than 15 years.

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