Zimbabwe deports GGA researchers ahead of elections
A team of researchers has been forcibly expelled from Harare this Thursday by the Zimbabwean government, abruptly ending their stay in the lead-up to the elections.
Zimbabweans will vote in just one week to choose the Council, Parliamentary, and Presidential representatives who will run the country for the next five years. Numerous regional and international election observers have already arrived in the country to keep a careful eye on the voting process.
The Good Governance Africa (GGA) researchers claim they came to do election-related field research with proper authorization and support. Despite following the proper procedures, they were taken aback by the deportation, which they saw as proof of “bullying and anti-democratic behaviour by the ruling ZANU-PF government, particularly during election periods.”
GGA’s International Chief Executive Officer, Chris Maroleng says, “The incident reinforces a pattern of suppressing democratic values and replacing them with fear and arbitrary decisions.”
Despite obtaining all necessary permissions and support, including clearance from the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria and endorsement from their local partner, the Southern Africa Political and Economic Series (SAPES Trust), led by Professor Ibbo Mandaza, he claims the researchers were met with an unexpected and troubling turn of events.
The researchers, while disappointed, say they are not surprised because their experience reflects a system that disregards human rights, democratic norms, and open discourse.
Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission has registered approximately 6.6 million people to vote in this year’s election. Eleven people are running for President, and 582 are fighting for the 280 National Assembly seats.