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By-Elections Violence Casts A Dark Cloud On 2023 Elections


Electoral advocacy group, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) says the recently held by-elections in Insiza, Chirumhanzu, Matobo and Mutare cast a dark cloud on the forthcoming 2023 harmonized elections.

The by-elections were marred by allegations of intimidation and violent attacks on opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) activists which left CCC legislator Jasmine Toffa injured.

In a statement on the takeaways from the by-elections, ERC said reluctance by state institutions to arrest perpetrators casts doubts on a violent free 2023 elections.

“CCC activists in Insiza, Chirumhanzu and Matobo were assaulted ahead of the by-elections, while the NCA candidate for the Mutare Municipality by-election was assaulted on the eve of the by-election. No arrests have been made. The increase in incidents of violence and the reluctance by state institutions to hold perpetrators to account casts a dark cloud on the impending 2023 harmonised election, with violence now a tool to systematically disrupt opposition campaigns.


“The election results show that Zimbabwe is still divided politically. In the only by-election in an urban area, the CCC won, while ZANU PF dominated elsewhere in the rural areas. CCC’s loss in the Matobo RDC, and Guruve RDC by-elections marked a significant defeat for CCC’s reputation as a resurgent party. CCC’s defeat in the rural areas raises questions about the impact of their election campaign strategies, particularly for candidates in rural communities,” said ERC.

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The advocacy group said the impending 2023 election is unlikely to ease Zimbabwe’s political turmoil as another hotly contested plebiscite looms.

“Beyond being contentious, the post 2018 by-elections have been used as a test for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on implementing reforms in the administration of elections in order for elections in Zimbabwe to pass the credibility test. Zimbabwe may, however, host another hotly contested general election in 2023 as a result of the polarized nature of its politics, the failure of state institutions to prosecute those accountable for election-related violence, and a lack of voter confidence in the Electoral Commission’s independence,” said the group.

ERC called on political parties to take lessons from the by-elections as Zimbabwean citizens in urban areas are no longer very enthusiastic about elections anymore.

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