THE absence of bloodshed during the Zimbabwe elections masked
other events that affected the legitimacy of the results, Christian
Aid's country manager said on Monday.
The manager, Miriam Machaya, spoke of long queues for
registration and many people turned away; of the late publication
of the list of polling locations; of local leaders in rural areas
"frog-marching" people to polling stations; and of voting lists
containing "people who should not be there".
"The Church said, like everyone else, that [the election] was
peaceful. But that has overshadowed other problems bubbling under,"
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission reported on Saturday that Mr
Mugabe had won 61 per cent of the vote to elect a President,
extending his 33-year rule for another five years. Mr Tsvangirai,
formerly Prime Minister from 2009, and leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), had won 34 per cent. Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party also secured three-quarters of the seats in the Zimbabwean
Instead of celebrating, Mrs Machaya reported, people in Harare
were "very subdued. . . There is just this sense of not believing
what the people have declared. People are asking, 'What has
happened?' There is a lot of despondency and worry."
On Saturday, Mr Tsvangirai said: "The fraudulent and distorted
election has plunged Zimbabwe into a constitutional, political, and
He called on the African Union (AU) and Southern African
Development Community to "meet urgently to deal with the crisis",
and for a "credible, free and fair, legitimate election" to be
Mrs Machaya said that, "knowing that the court system itself is
so compromised", a legal challenge to the result was unlikely to be
In 2008, Mr Tsvangirai won the first round of presidential
elections, but withdrew from the second round after accusing
pro-Mugabe militias of attacking his supporters.
On Friday, the AU reported that this year's election had taken
place "in an atmosphere devoid of violence, harassment, and
disturbances". But it highlighted several "shortcomings". The final
voters' roll was published two days before the election - too late
for meaningful inspection - and was not made available to all
political parties. There were "serious concerns" about duplication,
and omission of voters' names; about the high incidence of voters
turned away from polling stations, and the large number of assisted
The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, commended the "peaceful"
elections, but said that the UK Government had "grave concerns"
over the conduct of the election.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, said: "The United States
does not believe that the results represent a credible expression
of the will of the Zimbabwean people."
The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, congratulated Mr
Mugabe on his victory.
A report by the Research and Advocacy Unit, a Zimbabwean NGO,
published last month, suggested that nearly two million potential
voters aged under 30 were unregistered, while more than a million
people on the roll had either left, or had died.
On Thursday, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which
deployed 7000 observers, also said that the credibility of the
elections was "seriously compromised". While 99.97 per cent of
rural voters were registered, this applied to only 67.94 per cent
of urban voters.
On Saturday, a joint statement from the leaders of the Zimbabwe
Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and
the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe read: "Where there are
legitimate and substantiated irregularities and anomalies, we urge
concerned parties to resolve these through peaceful dialogue,
law-abiding, and in an orderly manner."
The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, whose
diocese has links to Zimbabwe, said on Monday: "The dispute over
the electoral process is a matter for grave concern."
The diocese of Rochester also has Zimbabwean links. The Bishop
of Tonbridge, Dr Brian Castle, said: "Prayers for the peacefulness
of the elections have generally been answered: we now need to be
patient, to see what happens in the coming weeks and months."
A report published a year ago by Freedom House, reported a slump
in support for the MDC from 38 per cent to 20 per cent, compared
with a surge for Zanu-PF, from 17 per cent to 31 per cent, between
2010 and 2012.
Mrs Machaya said that Christian Aid's priority in Zimbabwe was
to strengthen local advocacy "in the hope that, once they get
confident about challenging things that affect them in their own
local areas, they might be able to start to talk about electoral
processes and democratic processes".