Five candidates contested this election. Robert Mugabe stood for re-election against Morgan Tsvangirai (Movement for Democratic Change), Shakespeare Maya (National Alliance for Good Governance), and two independents, Wilson Kumbula and Paul Siwela, whose parties (ZANU and ZAPU) refused to endorse their candidacies.
‘Public’ media coverage of the election campaigns was widely condemned as biased. Two days after he had won the count, on 15 March 2002, Robert Mugabe signed into law the internationally-condemned Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Polling itself, extended for a third (half-)day, was largely peaceful, despite the dispersal of many long urban voting queues by the riot police. In the usual pattern of trouble-free voting, a tiny fraction (0,3%) of political violations of human rights occurred from 9-11 March.
Heavy political violence in the ten weeks before polling was reflected in 53% of the human rights violations which occurred in the first quarter (Q1) of the year 2002. The rate of violation escalated dramatically in the three weeks after the poll, when 46,6% of all Q1 violations reflected massive political retaliation against those (officially counted at some 46%) who voted for Morgan Tsvangirai.