Credibility of Zimbabwe’s July 30 Election Under Increasing Doubt

Two weeks from today, Zimbabweans will head to the polls to vote in the first election in the country’s history in which Robert Mugabe’s name will be absent on the ballot. On the surface, voting on July 30 will almost certainly appear better than recent elections, especially the 2008 poll that was marred by excessive violence, resulting in hundreds of deaths, as well as thousands of beatings and displaced people. A new biometric voters’ roll has now been created and international observers have been invited for the first time in recent memory. Importantly, opposition candidates have also been allowed to campaign relatively openly this time around.

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However, there are mounting concerns that the election is already fatally compromised. Just today, for example, it was reported in local media that the country’s electoral commission – already seen as a deeply partisan institution that favors the ruling party – changed the position of polling booths so that they will now be in full view of officials and party agents, a move that would entirely undermine the secrecy of the ballot.

Denial of fair access to the media, the organized political intimidation taking place, and the involvement of security forces in the election -- including their early voting in the absence of observers -- are all on their own enough to cast doubt on the vote's credibility. Taken together, it would appear there is a lack of genuine political will to hold truly free and fair elections, despite government rhetoric to the contrary. Indeed, Zimbabwe might be "open for business," -- as new president Emmerson Mnagnagwa likes to frequently claim -- but is the country and its institutions open for a credible election that meets regional standards? The answer to that question remains increasingly in doubt.

 

Tanzanian politician arrested for 'insulting' president

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A senior leader of a Tanzanian opposition party has been arrested for allegedly insulting President John Magufuli.

Julius Mtatiro, Chairman  of the National Leadership Committee of the of the Civic United Front (CUF), was arrested on Thursday and released on bail on Friday. He has been asked to report back at the Dar es Salaam Central Police Station on Monday, 9th July at 8 am.

He was arrested for posting a question “Who is the President, really?” on his Facebook page.

Police detained him as they found this phrase  offensive to the president and went on to search Mtatiro’s home for the device used to post on social media.
Mtatiro had reposted in solidarity with a young man in North Western Tanzania, who originally raised the question on his Facebook page and was himself arrested three days ago.