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Live experience of an AFRIC observer during presidential election in Zimbabwe

31.07.2018
As a part of AFRIC team, our group of international observers went to Matabeleland. All of us had electoral experience on both sides – either on observer side or election committee side and that was especially interesting to obtain Zimbabweans experience. Moreover, you know - everything was peaceful and quiet. We could not even expect this – you know rumors and fake news produce too many stereotypes globally – that Africa and Zimbabwe is unsafe place to stay, there is no place for democratic procedures and others. What we have seen during the Election Day – peaceful and transparent procedures, even in distant wards. There may be poor road, but the poll station is equipped – both with agents and observers.

I can confirm that because during the Election Day our group had worked at nineteen poll stations all across the Matabeleland: North, West, East, South and Central. Different neighborhoods, all with high presence, even in distant villages – positive atmosphere was all around. For example, at Njelele Primary School hidden in the land of forest and stones had 536 voters and in an hour before the closing, they had more than 500 voters.

In our opinion, there are two reasons. First, is the people’s mindset. This is first time for Zimbabwe to handle democratic elections. People are excited of freedom they could not obtain before. Second point is organizational. ZEC was great. Even except the pressure from other political actors, they did their job well – almost eleven thousands of poll stations worked systematically not for 12 hours but many more – procedure should stay legit and open. We can confirm that – even at deep night there were candles and attentive observers from AFRIC and other subjects.

In fact, we faced a few incidents. At Bulowayo’s City Hall, they had two poll stations. Nearby the entrance, among the people, there were group of people that “interviewed” each other – discussing who should win and why people should choose exact candidate. This is a form of hidden agitation. Therefore, we called the commission officer to stop them.

Another case was false alarm at the Komumula (Ward 2, Hat north) polling station. We had received a report from another observer’s group that commission do not release statistics. Therefore, we went there to check, just to find out that everything is normal and friendly at all three polling stations at Llewellin Barracks.

In addition, we, as AFRIC observers met many observers from the EU Observation Mission, observers from the US Embassy and different local parties and NGOs. Every time we have met, we felt professional solidarity and sense of unity.

The President kept his word – he promised to hold the election transparent, competitive and legit. Government and ZEC handled everything – from A to Z, respecting the law and all procedures.

 

Fedor Turygin

 

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