HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF, which rigged its own elections last week, has allegedly roped in a shadowy Israeli group Nikuv International to tinker with the voters’ roll ahead of polls, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said yesterday.
Tsvangirai told Rita Makarau, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson and her deputy Joyce Kazembe in a closed door meeting held at Charter House yesterday that Zanu PF was working with the secretive Israeli group to tamper with the voters’ roll, which by Zec’s own admission, is in shambles.
Luke Tamborinyoka, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, told journalists after the meeting that the PM has asked Zec to sniff out Nikuv’s role in the ongoing voter registration exercise to ensure that the voters’ roll reflect the country’s exact demographic figures.
“Several issues that came into the meeting include the involvement of a shadowy Israeli company that is working with the Registrar General and the (Zec) commissioner has said she will look into that,” said Tamborinyoka.
“These people have a very bad track record and they have been involved in other African countries, tampering with the voters’ roll.
"It is one of the challenges that were put up to Zec and we hope that they look into the matter.”
Nikuv has reportedly been previously hired by the Zambian government.
Zanu PF’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo could not immediately comment on the claims saying he was locked in meetings yesterday.
This is not the first time that the Mugabe administration has been linked to dodgy relations with individuals from Israel, after Israeli political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe, who was on the Zimbabwean government payroll, attempted to set Tsvangirai up in order to remove him from contesting the presidential poll in 2002.
Tsvangirai was charged with treason based on a videotape of a meeting in Montreal between him and Ben-Menashe.
In 2004, Judge Paddington Garwe pronounced Tsvangirai innocent saying the video that captured the MDC leader discussing Mugabe’s “elimination” was not credible.
In March 2002 an Israeli company sold riot control vehicles dubbed “water cannons” to the Mugabe government.
At a meeting in Tel Aviv in June 2010, Israel declared its support for Zimbabwe’s inclusion in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, stating that Zimbabwe is capable of supplying nearly a quarter of the global demand for diamonds
Tsvangirai said Nikuv International was working in cahoots with hardliners to fashion an outright Zanu PF victory.
Apart from having devised a deadly plan that centres on a harvest of fear and busing people to register in some constituencies, the former ruling party is also counting on the vote of the uniformed forces to shore-up its poll prospects.
Tsvangirai indicated that the police force has already applied for special voting for more than 50 000 officers.
Theresa Makone, co-Home Affairs minister who attended the meeting between Tsvangirai and senior Zec officials, said the country has less than 37 000 serving police officers, making the request bizarre.
With the official registration process reportedly in shambles and elections only a few weeks away, the ex-majority party is reportedly leaving nothing to chance after a shattering defeat in the 2008 polls, which led to formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU).
And as the keenly-awaited polls draw by, Mugabe’s party has launched several initiatives, including door-to-door campaigns where the party is canvassing for support.
On the other hand, the 50-year-old movement is also using village heads and chiefs to swell up its numbers at grassroots levels.
In 2008, the MDC, then an opposition party, again complained about the Israeli security firm’s involvement in the electoral processes and the matter was only worsened by Zec’s failure to announce election results in five weeks.
Today, five years after the disputed 2008 elections, the MDC insists that voter numbers were secretly concocted to deny Tsvangirai an outright victory in the March 2008 harmonised polls whose aftermath was characterised an orgy of State-sanctioned violence.
Wary of past gerrymandering by Zanu PF, which still controls vital sectors, including the state spy agency, Tsvangirai says there is need to ensure that internal processes in the country are watertight.
Notwithstanding the fact that Zanu PF is ill-prepared for polls—something that came to a head during the shambolic primary elections — the ex-majority party is still bullish that it will win the forthcoming elections amid concerns from civil society groups that Zanu PF is surreptitiously plotting to worm itself back into power.