Subverting Justice: The Role of the Judiciary in Denying the Will of the Zimbabwean Electorate since 2000
Five years ago this June, parliamentary elections were held in Zimbabwe. Both the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU (PF)) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) fielded candidates in all of the 120 constituencies. When the results were announced, ZANU (PF) was declared the winner of sixty-two of the constituencies, while the MDC won fifty-seven of the constituencies.5 The MDC, however, alleged that the elections were marred by, inter alia, widespread violence and voter intimidation, and in accordance with Zimbabwe’s electoral law, challenged the election results in thirty-nine of the constituencies.
A Presidential Amnesty in October 2000, pardoning all politically motivated crimes except rape and murder, ensured that perpetrators of political violence would not be brought before the Courts and that victims’ stories would be officially silenced. The electoral petitions were therefore intended to serve the dual purpose of challenging the outcomes in 39 constituencies and also making an official part of the Zimbabwean Court record, the horrific accounts of murder, torture, assault and property destruction that formed the backdrop to the 2000 election.
Two years later, Zimbabwe’s electorate again went to the polls in the 2002 presidential elections. Amid allegations of systematic violence and intimidation, polling irregularities, and vote rigging, Robert Mugabe was re-elected to an additional six-year term in office.6 The MDC refused to recognize the outcome of the election and likewise challenged the election results in the High Court of Zimbabwe.