The attention of the West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON) has been drawn to the fact that around 11 PM on election day on 23rd August 2023 in Zimbabwe, the Election Resource Center (ERC) and the Zimbabwe Election Support Networks (ZESN)’s joint data center at Grange Road in Harare was raided by individuals from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Zimbabwe. Subsequently, the ZESN’s data center at the Holiday Inn was also raided by the CIO and CID.
The CIO and CID officials have further raided the homes of some individuals from ZESN’s management and leadership. So far, a total of 30 to 40 individuals have been arrested at the two mentioned locations. It is believed that they are currently being held by the CID in central Harare. As a result of these actions, ERC and ZESN have suspended their citizen observation efforts meant to independently assess the integrity of the polls and secure the voting rights of Zimbabweans. The safety of the ERC and ZESN’s respective chairpersons is not currently known. Efforts to contact them in the last hours have not been successful.
WAEON, condemns these acts of abuse of power, unconstitutionality and impunity by the CIO and the CID of Zimbabwe taken against our sister network members in Zimbabwe. It must be noted that ERC and ZESN are reputable citizen observer organizations with years of experience in observing elections and have been duly accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to observe the August 2023 harmonized elections.
Read the full statement below: