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Mapping the election conditions in Zimbabwe

Explore the map and then consider whether elections held in this context can ever be considered 'free and fair'. Information on how to use the map, the map data limitations, and the background to how we mapped the data is provided below the map. Please visit our Zimbabwe Election Watch section, and explore our database for a comprehensive look at the many ways the articles listed in the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections have been breached by the Zimbabwean government.

Voter Registration Voter Registration Food Supply Food Supply Abduction Abduction Murder Murder Political Cleansing Political Cleansing Political Violence Political Violence
Press Freedom Press Freedom Unlawful Detention Unlawful Detention Looting & Destruction of Property Looting Freedom of Association Freedom of Association Freedom of Information Freedom of Information State Propaganda State Propaganda
Buying Votes Vote Buying Gerrymandering Gerrymandering Voters Roll Voters Roll Observer Restrictions Observer Restrictions Polling Issues Polling Issues Judicial Issues Judicial Issues
Loading Map

How to use the map:

Check and uncheck the breaches you'd like to focus on by clicking the box next to the relevant icon on the legend. Clicking on an icon on the map will produce a pop-up bubble with a precis of the SADC breach associated with it; follow the link below the precis to read more text via our database.

Double-click anywhere on the map to zoom in and focus on an area, and use the scale in the top left corner to zoom back out. (Zooming in is recommended if there is a dense arrangement of icons). Use your mouse to click, hold and drag on the map to pan to different areas.

Data limitations:

The breaches shown on this map represent a small sample of those gathered during our Zimbabwe Election Watch (ZEW) project, which set out to monitor the Zimbabwean government's compliance with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

The breaches identified under ZEW are based on information derived from media sources. It is very important that the map is viewed with this in mind.

Zimbabwe has a highly restricted media environment, and fuel shortages make remote rural areas inaccessible to journalists who do manage to circumvent the legislation and report regardless. This means that urban areas have a greater representation on the map. Blank areas on the map do not indicate 'uneventful' areas; they are more likely to represent stories we are unable to tell and incidents that have not been reported.

The map aims to give an impression of the scale and range of challenges facing Zimbabweans as we head towards the March 29th elections. Even though this is based on a small sample of information we have logged since July 2007, it clearly shows that conditions in the country are not conducive for a free and fair democractic elections.

Mapping the data:

ZEW data is stored on our database in relation to the SADC guideline it breaches. For the purposes of the map, we have instead grouped the ifnromation into broad categories, some intuitive, as a simpler more direct way of telling Zimbabwe's election story. Each icon is located as closely as possible to the area where the information originated, or where an event occured. Legislative breaches, problematic government instructions, and information originating from national organisations has been located in Harare, the capital. The table below explains the narrative per icon in more detail.

Voter Registration Voter registration: Events related voter registration; for example, ineffectual efforts to register voters, refusing to allow people to register, fraudulently registering voters, and a lack of information in relation to the voter registration.
Food Supply Food supply: Using food as a political weapon. This section logs incidents of deliberately withholding food, stockpiling food to use it to 'buy votes', threatening to withhold or dispense food along party lines, attempts to limit the activities of relief organisations.
Abduction Abduction: Forcing people, often violently, to go somewhere against their will.
Murder Murder
Political Cleansing Political Cleansing: This term and icon covers attempts to clear or 'cleanse' an area of political opposition. It covers a wide range of atrocities. In some instances people are literally driven from their homes: in others intimidation and threats are used to achieve the same 'cleansing' objective. The ruling party has used the words 'reorientation' and 're-education' as part of its political strategy before.
Political Violence Political Violence: Incidents where violence is used towards a political objective: to coerce someone to do something against their will, to punish them, or to intimidate and threaten them.
Press Freedom Press freedom: Incidents which impact on the press's ability to report freely and fairly and impartially on candidates, campaigning and elections in Zimbabwe.
Unlawful Detention Unlawful detention: Activists and political and civic leaders are regularly arrested for no reason at all in Zimbabwe.
Looting & Destruction of Property Looting & Destruction of Property: Incidents where personal belongings are stolen or 'confiscated', or where property is destroyed.
Freedom of Association Freedom of Association: Where people are denied their right to freely associate, either in the form of political meetings or meeting as members of civic organisations, or in the form of campaigning locally to meet constituents.
Freedom of Information Freedom of Information: Logging incidents that impact on the ability to either share information freely, or receive information freely.
State Propaganda False Statements:This includes state propaganda, deliberately circulating lies, or dispensing information and instructions in what would amount to an abuse of power.
Buying Votes Buying votes: Using bribery in the form of threats or promises of material gifts - including food, money, housing stands, cars, tractors, farms - for votes.
Gerrymandering Gerrymandering: Issues pertaining to the manipulation of constituency boundaries to secure political advantage for one party.
Voters Roll Voter's Roll: Events recorded here relate specifically to the voters roll; for example, whether or not the opposition have access to it, and whether or not the roll has errors on it.
Observer Restrictions Observer restrictions: Any efforts to curtail the activities of election observers will be logged using this icon.
Polling Issues Polling issues: This section records polling related issues; at the polling station and in relation to the polling box itself.
Judicial Issues Judicial Issues: Legislative and legal issues.