Zimbabwe’s elections – lessons from 1980


 Zimbabwe election‘Zimabawe Elections 2013: Will Result be A Re-booted Coalition?

By Sue Onslow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies

It’s election time again in Zimbabwe, with the nation going to the polls. Elections have a pretty combustible track record in the Zimbabwe political space.  So much of today’s vociferous media coverage and comment makes repeated reference to Zimbabwe elections since 2000.

But the 1980 vote – the final part of the Lancaster House settlement, with its crucial aspect of multi-party elections before internationally recognised independence – was no exception.

Lessons from the past

I’ve just done two interviews with former Commonwealth officials who were intimately involved in those first universal franchise Rhodesia/Zimbabwe elections. They pointed out the Commonwealth blazed a trail with the process of election monitoring long before the UNO, SADC or the AU. Sir Sonny Ramphal, the Secretary General of the time, clearly appreciated that elections had to be…

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