On Wednesday, Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold a general election. This poll has already garnered significant attention due to its potential to either direct the nation toward true democratic reform or plunge the Southern African country deeper into the depths of autocracy.

At the forefront of this election stand two main political contenders which are the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the ruling party with a history tainted by election rigging and violence, and the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC), a democratic movement vying for a brighter, more inclusive future.

Over the past 25 years Zimbabwe’s political landscape has been chaotic, to say the least. The rise of Emmerson Mnangagwa to power after the removal of Robert Mugabe via a military coup in November 2017 marked a significant turning point. While a subsequent general election in July 2018 was meant to usher in a new dispensation of legitimacy, accusations of rampant election rigging and violence tarnished the process, casting doubt on the credibility of the results.

Echoes of the past

The current election cycle is rife with disturbing echoes of the past. Reports of violence and intimidation directed towards CCC supporters are deeply concerning, showing a continuation of the brutal tactics that have marred previous elections. The latest tragic death of Tinashe Chitsunge, a CCC supporter allegedly killed by a mob of ZANU-PF loyalists on  3 August 2023, is a stark reminder of the grave dangers faced by those who dare to oppose the ruling party.

Underpinning these alarming events is a series of institutional failures that erode the very foundations of democracy. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), long accused of bias and manipulation, remains a key player in assisting ZANU-PF’s efforts to rig elections and manipulate results.

The voters’ roll, replete with anomalies like recycled ID numbers and ghost voters, suggests a deliberate attempt to tilt the playing field in favour of ZANU-PF. This erosion of trust in electoral processes has led to widespread scepticism among the population, a sentiment that can only further fracture the nation’s unity.


Law enforcement agencies, theoretically entrusted with maintaining law and order, appear to be complicit in the partisan machinations. Banning opposition rallies and turning a blind eye to violence perpetrated by ZANU-PF supporters undermines the fundamental principles of a fair and democratic society. Similarly, the captured judiciary, mired in allegations of corruption and political bias, threatens the rule of law.

International organizations, particularly the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), have the responsibility of safeguarding democratic principles and guaranteeing equitable electoral processes throughout the region or continent. Nonetheless, their inability to adequately address the situation in Zimbabwe raises concerns regarding their dedication to this key duty.

These organisations are lacking authority, only issuing verbal and written statements without any significant impact. Moreover, they are quick to endorse fraudulent elections across the continent. While the South African government, led by the ANC, holds a key position of influence in SADC and Africa, its decision to remain silent and not openly criticize ZANU-PF concerning the human rights abuses and rigging of elections in Zimbabwe is concerning and disappointing. A stable, functional Zimbabwe is not only essential for its own citizens but also for the stability and prosperity of the region.

As the 2023 election nears, it is crucial for the international community to stand up against the violation of human rights in Zimbabwe. The legacy of past injustices and flawed elections must not be allowed to repeat itself. Zimbabweans deserve a future characterized by transparency, inclusivity, and the genuine promise of democracy. It is high time for the international community to rally together and demand the fair and just Zimbabwe that its people so rightly deserve.

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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Image by D Mz from Pixabay


Tawanda is a research analyst for the Centre For Risk Analysis (CRA). He is primarily involved in writing chapters for the Socio-Economic Survey of South Africa, a reference guide on major trends in various social and economic fields. Tawanda’s other responsibilities include writing opinion pieces, assisting in research projects and reports and liaising with the media. Tawanda holds an Honours in Business Management from the University of Limpopo and is currently studying towards his Masters in Business Management.