By Reason Razao | Senior Reporter
ELECTION Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) have said they are unable to verify Presidential election results after police confiscated their gadgets in a recent raid of their data centres.
The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), in a joint statement said they have continued to receive reports of threats against their staff following their release from police custody on Friday.
On election night, just as the counting process was concluding in many parts of the country, police raided ERC and ZESN’s data centre, arresting all present staff and volunteers and confiscating all equipment.
According to the joint statement, police also targeted and seized other staff in nearby locations, in some cases violently.
ERC and ZESN have since denied allegations that they were planning to announce election results.
“Since election day, ERC and ZESN have continued to receive reports of observers and staff being targeted, threatened, and attacked, including one incident of an observer’s house being torched hours after the declaration of the presidential election results,” read the statement.
“This on-going intimidation and silencing of anyone who can provide verification and transparency to the electoral results by state actors fundamentally undermines their credibility and the credibility of these elections.
“ERC and ZESN call on the government to drop the charges levied against our staff and observers, and to take urgent measures to protect and stop harassment of accredited citizen election observers.”
The independent organisations called on ZEC to make dis-aggregated polling station level results publicly available online for all 12,370 stations as part of efforts to increase transparency of the tabulation process.
— ZESN (@ZESN1) August 27, 2023
Following the clamp down by the authorities, the organisations have said they can no longer verify election results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
ZEC declared President Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner of the general elections with a 52,6% share of the votes.
“As a result of the drastic lengths the Government of Zimbabwe took to prevent nonpartisan, independent observation of the counting and tabulation process, ERC and ZESN are unable to verify the outcome of the presidential election,” said the organizations.
ERC and ZESN, according to the statement, jointly deployed thousands of accredited observers to every province, district and constituency of the country using a statistically-sound sample to systematically observe the elections.
This included the collection of publicly available information in order to provide stakeholders and citizens with factual statements on the conduct of the voting and counting process, as well as the tabulation and announcement of results.
“We call for peace, for anyone who is aggrieved to seek redress through lawful means, and for the Government of Zimbabwe to respect the rights of citizens,” the CSOs said.