Harare (Mlondolozi Ndlovu) – Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has warned the 2018 elections could be rigged and even more violent if the country did nothing about the hostile electoral environment that preceded the Bikita West by election weekend.
Bikita West was marred by reports of vote buying, voter intimidation and assaults which also targeted one of the candidates, Madock Chivasa and his campaign manager by alleged Zanu PF supporters.
Senior army personnel and some top Zanu PF officials were also quoted threatening violence against villagers if the party lost the by-election.
Zanu PF has since won the by-election with party candidate Beauty Chabaya registering a thumping victory over her competitors.
CiZC said in a statement weekend events that characterised the period leading to the controversial poll could be replicated in the 2018 elections with dire consequences.
“Events that obtained during the Bikita West by-election have revealed that Zimbabwe could be headed for yet another sham poll in 2018 if measures are not taken to level the political playing ground and ensure violent free elections in which people express themselves freely,” said the group.
“Past elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by intimidation and violence which has resulted in the death of hundreds of opposition activists and the Bikita West by-election proved that free ad fair elections remain a pipe dream in Zimbabwe.”
CiZC warned continued violence on the eve of the 2018 elections was cause for concern in a country known for election related violence.
“Violence, intimidation as well as vote buying remain Zanu PF’s tools for winning elections,” said the group.
“The situation has been worsened by the partisan conduct of the security services who have often defied the Constitution to unleash violence and campaign for Zanu (PF) during elections.
“Zanu (PF) has also ensured that the Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission (ZEC) is staffed with its sympathizers and this has reduced the confidence of ordinary Zimbabweans in the ability of the commission to preside over free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
“It is quite evident that Zanu (PF) has an overbearing influence on the operations of ZEC and thus maintains an unfair advantage during elections and this is likely to continue into 2018.”