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ZIM 2023 ELECTION WATCH: No evidence for claim that Zimbabwe's election commission released a list of ruling party candidates nominated late

IN SHORT: Social media posts claim that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) released a slate of 56 Zanu-PF candidates who submitted their nominations late. There is little evidence for this “preferential” list. 

Candidates in Zimbabwe have been scrambling to make sure they are on the ballot paper ahead of elections on 23 August 2023.

False_ZEC

In this context, the country's supreme court recently reinstated 12 members of the main opposition party, the Citizens' Coalition for Change (CCC), after a lower court had in July disqualified them for failing to submit their nomination papers on time.

The nomination court is constitutionally mandated to receive papers from candidates wishing to contest elections. The court sat in June.

As the fallout over the omission of candidates continued, a claim was shared on Facebook that the country's electoral body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), had released a list of dozens of Zanu-PF candidates who submitted their nomination papers after the 4pm deadline on 21 June 2023.

The Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) is the ruling political party in the country, in power since 1980.   

The post reads: “TSEPETE TSEPETE HANDEI TIONE ZEC has released a list of 56 Zanu pf aspiring candidates who filed their nomination papers after 4pm cutoff time and the Judiciary service commissione has called for an emergency meeting. Watch the space for details. If so ndaona mudhara we 38 years muparamende zvavarana tatora uncontested pa Chegutu East apo” 

The post was made on a Facebook group called “Citizens coalition for change” and which has more than 63,000 members.

The Shona language part at the beginning and end of the post can be loosely translated as: “RIGHT THERE, RIGHT THERE, BRING IT ON … If so, I see the old man who has been in parliament for the past 38 years gone because we are going to take Chegutu East uncontested.”

The reference to “old man” is likely to be Webster Shamu who has been Chegutu's representative since 2000. The inference would be that he was on the purported list.

If the post were true, this would mean that the elections commission illegally accepted nomination papers after the deadline, favouring the ruling party and compromising the integrity of the election.

The Facebook post was accompanied by a screenshot of a tweet by Dr Walter Mzembi, who is part of presidential hopeful and independent candidate Saviour Kasukuwere’s team. 

In response to the tweet by Mzembi, South Africa-based researcher Piers Pigou asked for the proof, to which Mzembi only replied: “There is background work going on.”

The claim that the ZEC released a list of Zanu-PF candidates with late nominations also appeared elsewhere on Facebook here and on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, here and here. 

But is it accurate?

No list released

If the ZEC had published a list of candidates who had submitted their nomination papers late, while others were excluded, it would have been widely reported in the local media. However, there are no credible reports that a list has been published. 

We looked for the list on the ZEC's official website and social media pages, but came up empty.

It is also likely that the presence of the 56 ruling party candidates on the ballot would have been challenged in court, having found themselves in similar circumstances with the opposition aspirants.

According to media reporting, the CCC did not refer to what would have been a strong ground of discrimination, while the ZEC also argued that the candidates had made the deadline.

There is no evidence so far in the public domain to suggest that a list favoured Zanu-PF candidates exists.

This report is part of a partnership between FactCheckZW and Africa Check to fact-check the 2023 Zimbabwe general election.

 

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