The political and legal framework governing the 2005 parliamentary elections played a significant role in determining the freeness and fairness of the elections. The repressive legislation and partisan institutions put in place to govern the previous two elections were perpetuated, with new names, new personalities and invigorated allegiance to the ruling party. The continued use of repressive institutions and legislation appears to stem from the ruling party’s insecurity and its desire to maintain its hegemonic position. The establishment of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing the Conduct of Democratic Elections was both a timely and welcome development for civil society organisations and human rights activists. The government of Zimbabwe responded by selectively applying critical tenets of the guidelines. Undoubtedly there was a relative reduction in state-organised violence but repressive legislation designed to favour the ruling party was not dismantled. New but partisan electoral bodies were appointed to manage the elections and there was rampant and excessive executive interference in the operations of the electoral bodies. As a result the manner in which the delimitation process was conducted compromised the electoral result. The media were biased throughout the campaign period, only improving a few days before the poll. The voters’ roll was a shambles, with names duplicated or omitted and including the names of deceased or nonexistent voters The announcement of the results in the absence of political party representatives raised suspicions about their validity. Civil society organisations and opposition political parties dismissed as a fraud an election that must be characterised as flawed – it was free but not fair.
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Categories: Journal of African Elections