Zimbabwean legal think tank Veritas has warned that the military may have had a strong influence over the way people voted in Zimbabwe’s general elections on Monday.
However, top military officials have publicly declared they would recognise the presidential winner regardless of political affiliation, Zimbabwean newspaper NewsDay reported on Tuesday.
In its Sunday report, prior to the elections, Veritas said most Zimbabweans were still sceptical of the military’s position regarding a victory by other candidates other than Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Human rights monitors have reported considerable military presence in rural communities, and the military, which has for long been linked to the current president, also has a presence in farming areas, as they are heavily involved in command agriculture [crops and livestock] introduced by the current president,” Veritas said.
“According to a survey by Afrobarometer this month, 44% of Zimbabweans thought the armed forces would not respect the election result.”
Furthermore, 15% of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) staff is from the military, Veritas pointed out.
“The military says it will follow the constitution in recognising the outcome of the elections – this is an ambiguous phrase, as the military said it was following the constitution in replacing former president Robert Mugabe,” said the legal think tank.
“For 37 years, the people of Zimbabwe have lived in fear of the security forces and youth militias during election periods – this fear has influenced voting in the past,” Veritas added.