Elections are a critical mechanism through which citizens choose their representatives and hold them to account. Since attaining independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has unfailingly conducted regular elections – a total of eight parliamentary and five presidential elections, most recently two ”harmonized” (i.e. concurrent presidential, parliamentary, and local government) elections.
With few exceptions, the country’s elections have been fraught with controversy and oppositionparty allegations of politically motivated violence and intimidation perpetrated by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). These allegations have been particularly common in elections held since 2000, most notably the June 2008 presidential runoffs. As a result of alleged electoral irregularities, the outcomes of virtually all previous elections have been contested.
Afrobarometer Round 7 survey findings in Zimbabwe show overwhelming popular desire for regular, open, and honest elections, but this is accompanied by widespread fears of political intimidation and violence during campaigns as well as a strong perception that citizens need to exercise caution when casting their ballots.