Mobile and Internet tools make it difficult for Mugabe to steal election in Zimbabwe

One of the key differences between this year’s general election in Zimbabwe and the widely-believed-to-be-rigged presidential race in 2005 is the practice – agreed to in the Mbeki-mediated pre-election talks – of starting the count immediately after polls closed and displaying the results of the count to public view outside each polling station as soon as it is completed. Add to this the greater penetration of mobile phones and internet access, and it becomes much more difficult for President Robert Mugabe to cling to power by manipulating the election results.

Thanks to a newsletter from an NGO called Sokwanele, I discovered an Independent Results Centre for the Zimbabwe Elections 2008, which is doing a tabulation of votes parallel to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC – incidently, I got a “Forbidden” error when trying to visit this page).

The site’s parallel tabulation gives Morgan Tsvangirai 50.3% of the presidential vote (based on the votes of 209 out of 210 constituencies), Robert Mugabe 42.9%, and Simba Makoni 6.8%. It gives Tsvangirai’s MDC 99 seats, Zanu-PF 95 seats, and Mutambara’s MDC and Independents 12 seats. Three constituencies have to be contested in by-elections due to candidates having passed away.

According to the site’s explanatory page, its results are compiled from official results displayed at polling stations and obtained from polling agents at those stations.

This information was transmitted to a results centre in South Africa using cellphones
and satellite phones to the centre which was manned by call centre operators.

According to the information page, polling agents also photographed the official results published by the ZEC, and these photos will be archived on the site later “as forensic evidence.”

It’s a pretty straight forward website, and there’s no indication of who’s behind it (it could be the MDC itself). Even the explanatory page was recently added – perhaps after queries from visitors. But if they’ve got the evidence to back up their results, it doesn’t really matter who’s behind it.

Sokwanele has also been posting regular updates on the election results, quoting both ZEC and PVT (Parallel Vote Tabulation) results, and highlighting discrepancies between the two sets of results. They’ve also provided an interactive map of election conditions, including a number of breaches of the SADC protocol on free and fair elections. Quite a visually powerful tool.

The fact is, connectivity makes the world a smaller place – with fewer places to hide. Let’s hope Mugabe and Zanu-PF see the writing on the (virtual) wall, and don’t still try to get away with manipulating the results in their favour.


1 Response to “Mobile and Internet tools make it difficult for Mugabe to steal election in Zimbabwe”

  1. 1 Mugabe Rig Killed by Internet « POLITISITE: Politics from the RIGHT Side of the WEB Trackback on 2 April 2008 at 4:48 pm

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