Zimbabwe has had 7 presidential elections which have been held in contrasting fashions since the country attained independence in 1980.Irregularities were raised over the elections and allegations of rigging ,voter,fraud, intimidation and violence raised by contestants of the elections.


Southern Rhodesia held general elections, in accordance with the conclusions of the Lancaster House agreement, to decide upon a government that would rule the country. Zanu-PF won making Robert Mugabe the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

It was alleged that the 1980 elections, which were defining in that they marked the end of colonial rule and the dawning of political independence, were rigged.


The late Vice President Joshua Nkomo, in his personal memoirs, The Story of My Life, believed the 1980 elections were rigged and that Zanu-PF used militias to condone off some parts of the rural areas it believed to be potential strongholds of his political party, The Zimbabwe African People’s Union ZAPU. He points out to politically motivated violence, murder and rape perpetrated on political competitors as some of the ways Zanu-PF used to steal the 1980 election. “…the British election supervisors in an interim report had told the governor that more than half of the electorate was living in conditions where a free vote could not take place.

Nkomo claimed that Zapu was cheated out of some seats it could have won, given a fair campaign,” he noted in his personal account of the tyranny that characterised Mugabe’s rule.


A newly independent Zimbabwe held general elections for the first time. Zanu PF under Robert Mugabe was re-elected with an increased majority.



This year marked the first elections to be contested under the amended constitution of 1987, which established an elected executive presidency and abolished the Senate. Edgar Tekere, then ex-Minister of Labour & Man-Power Planning, ran against Mugabe as the candidate of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM). He had been expelled from Zanu PF following his consistent criticism of corruption. Tekere was strongly against Mugabe’s notion of a one party state as he was quoted of saying:

“A one-party state was never one of the founding principles of ZANU-PF and experience in Africa has shown that it brought the evils of nepotism, corruption and inefficiency.”


It is reported that Tekere received unprecedented support for his opposition to Mugabe which led to massive election rigging by ZANU-PF in order for Mugabe to win. ZUM supporters were the targets of violent attacks which resulted in five candidates being murdered. Those convicted of the attempted murder of former Gweru Mayor the late Patrick Kombayi who was shot in the lower abdomen but survived the shooting, were pardoned immediately afterwards.


The elections were contested by the incumbent President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe Rhodesia-era Prime Minister Abel Muzorerwa, and Zanu-Ndonga leader Ndabaningi Sithole. Mugabe won, claiming over 90% of the vote, though was just 32,3%, largely as a result of Sithole and Muzorewa withdrawing their candidacies shortly before the election (though their names remained on the ballot).


  • Sithole

Ndabaningi Sithole was under virtual house arrest on charges of attempting to assassinate Mugabe so he withdrew claiming that ZANU-PF was undermining his authority.


Sithole was found guilty of conspiring to assassinate Mugabe in December 1997 and sentenced to two years in jail.He appealed, failed and died whilst he was still on bail.


  • Muzorewa

Abel Muzorewa pulled out after the supreme court turned down his bid to postpone the elections on the basis that the electoral rules were unfair.

  • Magret Dongo

There were allegations that the voters’ register was littered with inaccuracies, ghost voters and dead people whose names had not been deleted. It was, such non-existent voters that the opposition believed were used to rig elections in areas where Zanu-PF would have been defeated. Margret Dongo, in 1995, successfully contested the election out-come in Harare South constituency on the basis that the voters’ role was in shambles. The fact that she won her case in the High Court made a lot of people believe that the state of the voters’ roll made it liable to abuse by the ZANU-PF.


President Robert Mugabe won claiming 56,2% of the vote which was the closest presidential election to date. The AU described the election as “transparent, credible, free and fair.


The conduct of the election was strongly condemned by the Commonwealth, Nowegian observers, Zimbabwean opposition figures, and Western governments and media.

The 2002 Presidential election is alleged to have marked the consolidation of totalitarianism and thickening of intolerance. It also believed to have brought in the notion of winning elections “by an means necessary” as was postilated in aZanu-PF Central committee meeting minutes of March 2007. It was also claimed that this election laid bare the electoral chicanery that Zanu-PF had already been suspected of. As noted by Professor Jonathan Moyo, the former Minister of Information and Publicity in Mugabe’s government, the incumbent used, in the 2002 Presidential election, the military, national intelligence, police forces, government ministries and departments and traditional chief to win the election .


The three major candidates were incumbent President Robert Mugabe Zanu P), Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC), and Simba Makoni, an independent. Nearly a month passed before election results were announced which prompted the MDC to sought an order from the High Court to force their release. It was unsuccessful.

As no candidate received an outright majority in the first round, a second round was held on 27 June 2008 between Tsvangirai (with 48% of the first round vote) and Mugabe (43%). Tsvangirai withdrew from the second round a week before it was scheduled to take place, citing violence against his party’s supporters. The second round went ahead, despite widespread condemnation, and led to victory for Mugabe.


The period following the first round was marked by political violence. Zanu-PF and the MDC each blamed the other’s supporters for perpetrating the violence; Western governments and prominent Western organisations blamed Zanu-PF for the violence.

Faced with a widely condemned election victory, a parliament without two-thirds majority of his Zanu PF, and a broadly recognized first round result in which Tsvangirai was leading, Mugabe found himself with no choice but to accept the regional and international community’s suggestions for a negotiated political settlement.


This marked the first election held under a new constitution, which was approved in a referendum in March 2013.