Zimbabwean Elections: We dared hope

Cathy Buckle


2 August 2013

Dear Family and Friends

Election day started at a very chilly 6 degrees centigrade in my home town with heavy, overcast skies and a biting wind. The grey, cold morning of election day 2013 was such a contrast to the blue skies and sunshine of the days before, that you had to wonder if the oppressive weather wasn’t a warning for what lay ahead.

Right up to election day 2013 everything looked to be against Zimbabwe’s desperate need for change and yet we didn’t heed the warnings and hurtled headlong into it.

Two chaotic voter registration exercises had left multiple thousands unable to get their names on the electoral roll. There was no vote for the estimated 3 or 4 million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. There was no vote for the thousands of born and resident Zimbabweans who had taken up dual citizenship after being classed as ‘aliens’ by the Registrar General. Stipulated media and security sector reforms had not been undertaken. And then there was the mayhem of the actual voters’ roll.

But wait, what voters’ roll? None of us could believe that we were actually going into an election when political parties hadn’t even got the voters’ roll, let alone had a chance to inspect or verify it. What utter insanity was this? As it turned out the MDC only managed to get a hard copy of the voters’ roll on election day and then only after a Judge had intervened. The MDC have still not been able to get an electronic copy of the roll.

Surely this was a recipe for disaster? For months people were warning that a free and fair election in Zimbabwe was impossible if we went to the polls with the same rigged voters’ roll that has kept the 89 year old President and his party in power for 33 years. They were right. It was impossible. SADC and the AU turned a blind eye to all the breaches and didn’t stop us from going to the cliff edge. The MDC saw the huge multitudes at their election rallies, called for a massive turnout on election day, shut their eyes and urged us to the precipice; we trusted them and followed.

‘What on earth’s going on?’ was the question so many people were asking on election day in my home town when they found out they were in the wrong queues and weren’t able to vote at their usual polling stations. Married couples living in the same house, same Ward and same Constituency braced the freezing weather and went to the polling station they’ve voted at for the last twenty years. Their names weren’t there; one was sent to a different ward on the other side of town in an unknown area, the other to a polling station in a completely different constituency.

Those that were patient and determined, queued again and found themselves looking at strange faces on ballots slips because they were no longer in the wards or even constituencies that they live in.

As the day wore on more and more people had the same problem; either their names weren’t on the voters’ roll at all or they couldn’t find or get to the ‘right’ polling station. Calls for help to Councillors and MP’s to assist in finding the ‘right’ polling stations were useless because they didn’t have a voters’ roll to check on. When most polling stations were virtually deserted by 3pm in my home town, the writing was on the wall. With such a muddled mess of ‘wrong’ polling stations and ‘right’ polling stations, it was obvious people had given up and yet the reports continued to tell of a massive turn out. Who were all these masses? Confused? So are we.

At the time of writing the results are still coming in but it seems Zanu PF have taken 75% of the vote. The MDC have called the election null and void and said they won’t recognize the results. SADC observers described them as free and fair.

Our hearts ache for our country. We had dared to hope. We were poised and ready to surge forward. We were waiting to call four million of our family and friends to come home. 2018 is a long, long way away.

Until next time, thanks for reading

Love, Cathy.

2nd August 2013.

Copyright  Cathy Buckle. www.cathybuckle.com <http://www.cathybuckle.com/>

For information on my book “IMIRE”, about Norman Travers and Imire Game Park, or my other books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” “African Tears,” “Beyond Tears;” and “History of the Mukuvisi Woodlands 1910-2010”, please visit my website or contact cbuckle@zol.co.zw