HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has sensationally claimed that a core of hardliners in the military has taken charge of next year’s presidential election, but the army has rubbished the claims as “nonsense”.
The army said it was clear that the election was run by the Simpson Mutambanengwe-led Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the military was only there to keep peace in the country.
MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the plot was real, and said if the international community does not intervene now, they can rule out prospects for a free and fair poll in Zimbabwe.
Claims that the election has fallen under the control of military hardliners compounds fears that widespread vote tampering will be used to try to keep President Robert Mugabe in power and add pressure on regional bloc Sadc to take a firm stand for security sector reforms.
With months before polling opens, the MDC claims it has unearthed a growing body of evidence that the forthcoming election is already deeply flawed. The MDC did not provide evidence.
Alphios Makotore, the army spokesperson angrily rubbished the MDC’s claims.
“That’s nonsense, how do we do those things? It is done by Zec,” Makotore said, asking why the MDC was not taking its grievance to Parliament. Kupenga uko,wakambotiona tichiita(That is being crazy. We have never been involved with the voters’ roll. We have nothing to do with the voters roll,” he said.
Zec acting chairperson Joyce Letitia Kazembe also dismissed the MDC claims.
“This is the first time I am hearing about it. We supervise the process, the registration of voters is done by the registrar of voters. It is the first time I am hearing about it. The national statistics are done at the RG’s office, it has never moved. I don’t know where that is coming from.”
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo also denied that there was such a plot.
Reportedly dubbed the “Battle Plan”, the MDC claims almost every aspect of the vote, including the voters’ roll and delimitation, is now in the hands of the army.
It did not provide evidence to back its claim but insisted yesterday that the military hardliners have created a voters register with six million names on it even though Zimbabwe does not have more than 3 million eligible voters in the country.
The party also alleges there has been gerrymandering ensuring that only a quarter of voters appearing on the register were in urban areas.
“It is absolute lies, there is nothing like that,” Gumbo said.
“Besides, it’s not done by Zanu PF, it is done by all parties in an open forum. There are institutions that do that, Zec, the registrar of voters. We have no involvement in these things.”
Keeping Tobaiwa Mudede as the registrar of voters “and to get him to do his usual stuff – control the balloting, the counting and the reporting of the actual election results” was part of the plot, the MDC claimed.
It is alleged voter-district maps are being redrawn, and former commercial farming districts have been loaded with more voters than in the urban areas and left the balance in the communal areas.
While the 2008 delimitation exercise slashed the number of urban seats to 84 out of 210 legislative seats, the current “secret delimitation exercise at Army Headquarters” has come up with a formula that would further reduce the number of urban seats to 52, the MDC claims.
“We are aware that Zanu PF machinery is trying all means to make the election either unfree or unfair,” Mwonzora said.
“We know for certain that they have started a terror campaign against villagers in the countryside. We also are aware that they want to engage in a serious gerrymandering of the constituencies. “We have already seen them closing all media opportunities to the MDC. So we are clear that if the international community does not intervene, there will be no free and fair elections in Zimbabwe,” said Mwonzora.
Bases staffed by the military and CIO were established in every district many with ‘black operation’ groups of specialists to conduct covert operations against the MDC and hostile NGO elements, the MDC alleges.
Zanu PF and hardliners in the party have also adopted a plan to settle thousands of people on farms they controlled adjacent to the urban centres, the MDC claimed.
“Two weeks ago a report came to light that some 174 000 families (about 750 000 people) had been settled in these areas, each one taking out Zanu PF membership and paying a small fee for the right to build a shack,” an MDC report says.