Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa (C) greets supporters during his 2023 election campaign rally in Marondera, Zimbabwe, 30 July 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/AARON UFUMELI

Zimbabwe failed to ensure free, fair elections, says HRW

Harare, Aug 3 (EFE).- Zimbabwe authorities have failed to take necessary steps to ensure that the general election slated for Aug. 23 meets international standards for a free and fair vote, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Thursday.

The report found that “the seriously flawed electoral process” threatens the fundamental rights of Zimbabweans to freely choose their representatives in the polls.

“Zimbabwe’s authorities have yet again demonstrated a lack of respect for the basic freedoms necessary for a credible, free, and fair election,” said HRW’s senior Africa researcher Idriss Ali Nassah.

The rights watchdog said the Zimbabwean authorities have adopted repressive laws and used intimidation and violence against the opposition, while the police’s partisan conduct has further undermined the electoral process.

“The authorities have weaponized the criminal justice system against the ruling party’s opponents,” the report said.

It added several politicians from the main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), have been held in prolonged pre-trial detention on baseless and politically motivated charges.

“We cannot hold meetings in towns and cities, and we cannot go to the rural areas. (…) The ruling party causes violence any time the opposition tries to venture into the rural areas,” CCC’s deputy spokesperson Ostallos Siziba told HRW.

“The Zimbabwe government needs to take concrete measures before the election to meet its obligations under national and international law to allow people to vote free of intimidation, fear, and violence,” Nassah said.

The New York-based rights group said that there are “serious concerns about the independence, composition, and conduct” of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, whose commissioners were chosen by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, instead of the main political parties.

Mnangagwa, who has been in power since the military coup in 2017. He continued in power after winning the 2018 presidential elections, and is now seeking a fresh mandate in the forthcoming elections on Aug. 23. EFE