As the polls closed in Zimbabwe on 31 July, following the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections 2013, the role of connectivity and mobility within the voting process has garnered a great deal of interest. The influence of the Internet will come under the spotlight as authorities have vowed to come down hard on any attempts to leak results – including online.
An article posted on New Vision says Zimbabwe’s police force have made public their intention to “crack down” any attempts to broadcast early results, which would thwart any plans civic groups have to pre-empt official announcements.
It means that the public will have to wait for official collated results from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Frances Lovemore, a senior official at the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, is quoted as saying that in order to prevent the collation of election results posted outside polling stations, police have made it an offence to send results via text messaging or the Internet.
It is a story that has been picked up by international media.
A report on Fox News quoted police spokeswoman Charity Charamba as saying that the warning of arrest of those who announce election results before the ZEC also applies to websites.
“It does include websites because it still has the same effect. The fact that it is on the website still (means) a crime has been committed and if those people are within this country then they will be arrested,” she said.
Voice of America reported that according to the ZEC, partial results are expected on Thursday (02 August).
Media agencies and outlets including Reuters, BBC, CNN and CBC have all taken up the story.
Research shows some response from social networks to the caution by Zimbabwe’s authorities.
The Twitter account @ZimElections2103 stated that from the morning of 01 August, it “will only publish ZEC announced results in respect of Zimbabwe’s Electoral Laws and Statutes governing such.”
Chris Tredger – Online Editor