This brief report has been produced to underscore the difficulties in accepting that elections, be they by-elections or the Presidential election, can be free and fair in the current situation. The persistence of organised violence and torture seem to mitigate against any acceptance that the conditions for holding elections are even close to desirable. The current by-election in Chikomba constituency provides an interesting case study of the electoral process in Zimbabwe currently.
The Chikomba constituency was won last June by Dr Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, amid allegations of organised violence and torture. Dr Hunzvi received 13,417 votes as against the 6,776 votes received by the MDC candidate. An election challenge was immediately mounted in the High Court, seeking to set aside the result. Before the petition could be heard by the High Court Dr Hunzvi died and a by-election was consequently ordered. The by-election will take place this weekend (22/23 September), and, although the early campaign has been peaceful, the violence has been increasing over the past few weeks.