Elections in Zimbabwe neither free nor fair – HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated on Thursday that the upcoming nationwide ballot in Zimbabwe will be conducted under a “seriously flawed electoral process” that falls short of global standards for freedom and fairness.

Zimbabwe is heading to the polls on August 23 to elect the president and legislature, and analysts anticipate a tense affair marked by a crackdown and concerns of potential rigging.

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

According to the US-based rights group, the authorities in Zimbabwe have implemented repressive laws to silence dissent and have resorted to intimidation and violence against the opposition.

In a report based on interviews with activists and politicians, the group stated that the courts have been “weaponized” to target opposition politicians, and the election overseers lack impartiality in Zimbabwe.

Nassah emphasized that the Zimbabwean government must take concrete measures before the election to fulfill its obligations under national and international law, ensuring that people can vote without intimidation, fear, or violence.

“So far nothing indicates the authorities are willing to do that.”

Zimbabwe’s government did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, who leads the ZANU-PF party, has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980. He took over from the late ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017 and is now seeking re-election.

His main challenger is Nelson Chamisa, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor.

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