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Various civic society organisations and political party representatives in the United Kingdom have handed over a petition to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over alleged rigging during Zimbabwe’s August 23 and 24 polls.

They based their petition on reports issued by several election observer missions which declared the polls as having fallen short of being free, fair or credible to meet local and international standards for democratic elections.

The petition comes as pressure is piling on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government with the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) calling for fresh elections.

The civic and political organisations which petitioned the UK government on Friday include MyRight2Vote chaired by former Ntabazinduna chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation, the Restoration of Human Rights to Zimbabwe, CCC’s UK chapter and Zapu UK chapter.

In the petition, the organisation expressed concern over the “rot” in what they called an illegitimate government led by Mnangagwa which has been displayed through his appointment of his kith and kin as Cabinet ministers.

“The shambolic, corrupt and heavily biased election ‘process’ from delimitation/registration manipulations, the disorganised 23-24th August election, the alteration of V11s and the post-election violence against CCC members meant that Zimbabwe had no credible election,” the petition read.

“The rushed announcement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to proclaim Mnangagwa as the presidential reeks of ill-advised panic by Mnangagwa. The ambivalence of the military and their declarations [of allegiance] to the President as opposed to the Constitution all smack of corruption at the faux ‘inauguration’.”

The petitioners also accused the ruling Zanu PF of destabilising the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region while using looted funds to maintain injustice, corruption and violence.

They further accused Zanu PF of allegedly trying to engineer a coup in Zambia using former Zambian President Edgar Lungu. Zanu PF has, however, refuted the allegations.

The groups said the arbitrary and frequent arrests of CCC MPs and activists to manipulate voters and refusal of diaspora vote disenfranchising several millions of Zimbabweans globally were some of the misdemeanours which disqualify the elections as free, fair and credible.

“We, therefore, plead with the UK/FCDO to join Sadc/AU/US/EU/Commonwealth, Carter Center and others, to sponsor a new, independently administered free and fair election in Zimbabwe to accurately reflect the will of the voting electorate.”

It noted that the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), in its July 2023 review leading up to the election, recorded 301 human rights violations, a large increase from 206 recorded in June 2023.

“During the 2023 pre-electoral period ZPP has observed an alarming trend of attacks and intimidation against CCC activists in their localities. Attacks on aspiring candidates have been documented by ZPP, primarily against aspiring local authority and National Assembly candidates.

“We, the people of Zimbabwe, united in our common desire for democracy, constitutionality and constitutionalism: Demand an extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe, a full member State of Sadc and demand a fresh, free, fair and credible election,” the petition added.