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By Citizen Reporter


As dust settles in Harare, evidence of electoral fraud can be scrutinised

A tweet appears to show 'evidence' of results that show a higher number of votes for Zanu-PF than the amount of people registered in the area.

Zimbabwe was on Thursday morning on edge awaiting the results of its historic presidential election after troops opened fire on protests against alleged electoral fraud, denting hopes of a new era for the country following the ousting of Robert Mugabe.

The government late Wednesday vowed to enforce a security crackdown to prevent further unrest after the army opened fire to disperse opposition protests in Harare, leaving at least three people dead.

The army’s violence is a result of claims by MDC leaders and supporters that there has been vote rigging during the election.

The MDC accused the election authorities of falsifying results, and claimed the army had opened fire “for no apparent reason”, leading to the deaths of unarmed civilians.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa pointed his finger at the MDC, blaming them for the unrest.

“We hold the opposition MDC Alliance and its whole leadership responsible for this disturbance of national peace,” he said, adding the government “went out of its way” to try to ensure the elections were peaceful.

Harare is currently calm amid the government’s assertion that they would continue to crackdown on any dissent.

As the dust settles, we can begin to try to work out whether there is indeed evidence of electoral fraud.

A tweet claiming to show “clear evidence” of vote rigging was sent out by someone calling himself Sangano Munhumutapa. The tweet appears to show a piece of paper on which an electoral officer declares results, which show a higher number of votes for Zanu-PF than the amount of people registered to vote in the area. The authenticity of the document has not yet been verified.

Past Zimbabwean elections have been marred by accusations of voting fraud in which the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) was implicated.

While this is the first election in 16 years in which Zimbabwe will allow the election to be monitored by Western observers, including the European Union, the Commonwealth and American pro-democracy groups, it has not been able to escape allegations of vote rigging.

The ZEC and Mnangagwa have repeatedly claimed this election is free and fair.

READ MORE: Zim elections won’t be ‘free and fair’ due to failing voter system

But on Monday the Citizen reported that free and fair might be a far-fetched description of Zimbabwe’s election today, according to a researcher, citing old Zanu-PF habits and a new threat to the credibility of the hailed Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system.

Derek Matyszak, a Harare-based senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, pointed out a major concern with the BVR system, which has to date not been confirmed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to have been run against official data to remove any duplication of voters.

“What I think is a major scandal here is that one of the grounds upon which the elections will be considered free and fair is the assurance that there would be a new and accurate voters’ roll and the reason why it will be so accurate is because they have used biometric data capturing,” Matyszak said.

“The problem is that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not run the fingerprint ID system on the voters’ roll.

“They spent a lot of money putting the system in place and gathering the data, but it would have taken six weeks of continuous running of the computers to compare all 57 million fingerprints and it seems they simply ran out of time.”

While many on Twitter have shown support for the MDC and the protesters, there are some, including ANC NEC member Zizi Kodwa, who claim MDC leader Nelson Chamisa “incited” his support base to reject the result regardless of the outcome, and that Chamisa “declared himself a winner” before the election day.

On Tuesday, Chamisa appeared to claim victory, saying on Twitter in a tweet since deleted that after his party had collected results from more than 10 000 polling stations, he was convinced of his and his party’s victory. “Winning resoundingly … We’ve done exceedingly well,” he said on Twitter, adding: “We are ready to form the next [government].”

On Wednesday, he told his Twitter followers that regardless of the official results, the party had “won the popular vote”.

Additional reporting by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni 

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