HARARE – In this question and answer interview with Honourable Jameson Timba (JZT), the Daily News’ Executive Deputy Editor, Chris Goko (CG), graphically illustrates how the odds are stacked against political opponents of Zanu PF in the forthcoming elections, beginning with Sunday’s so-called special voting.
CG: Hon. Jameson Timba, you are once again representing your party in the Mt. Pleasant Constituency and tomorrow there is special voting in your constituency. What are the issues?
JZT: Well Mt. Pleasant Constituency houses Morris Depot, Tomlinson Depot, KG6 and Pomona Barracks, and a number of applications for special voting from these institutions have been filed with Zec.
CG: How many?
JZT: My understanding is that there are about 7 000 police details and 140 army personnel and 2 000 prison officers.
CG: Are all these personnel voting in your constituency?
JZT: Well, according to our voters’ roll as of May 2013, there were approximately 3 200 soldiers registered under the KG6 address, 2 780 under Tomlinson Depot, 1 912 under Morris Depot and 832 under Harare Remand Prison.
CG: Do all these people reside at these premises?
JZT: Chris, firstly I do not know and I have no way of knowing who resides at the above institutions other than the information generally known by members of the public. It is the duty of the Constituency Registrar under the supervision of Zec to verify.
I raised issues, in writing, with Zec with respect to what I perceived as anomalies. Firstly, KG6 is our national army headquarters and to the best of my knowledge, it does not accommodate 3 200 persons. Our army personnel who work there reside at Dzivaresekwa State Barracks and they are ferried to work by bus every day.
With respect to Morris Depot, it is largely a training depot where recruits stay there for about six months and thereafter they are deployed to their areas countrywide where they reside and work and as such should vote from.
With respect to prison officers, I am not sure whether new prisons are going to be constructed during the election period to necessitate the deployment of prison officers away from their prison guard duties in their wards and thus qualifying them for special voting.
CG: What did Zec say?
JZT: I was not favoured with the courtesy of a response from the Zec Chair with regards to the anomalies that I raised with the roll affecting security personnel, but in my correspondence I indicated to them that I will purchase the voters’ roll after it is closed after July 9, 2013 and see whether they have corrected the roll and registered people in the wards that they reside.
CG: But why did you not push for correction of the roll?
JZT: Look, it is the responsibility of Zec to ensure that we have a credible roll. The anomalies of the roll were not restricted to the security establishments only, but also other areas.
For instance, a whole team of persons who reside at a farm in Mazowe District called Kaduku Farm or Teviotdale Plot were registered in Mt. Pleasant.
I pointed this out to Zec. We also have a case of people who do not reside at Bannockburn Compound registered, with at least 27 of them registered on one address. This is crazy.
CG: What next then if Zec have not taken steps to correct the anomalies?
JZT: Firstly, I reserve my rights at law and if the anomalies impact on the result of the election, then I will challenge it. Secondly, I also believe that every Zimbabwean including the security personnel should be given a right to vote, albeit in their correct wards.
Thirdly, I do not see how the agenda of those who planned this distortion of the roll will be advanced.
CG: What do you mean when you say you don’t see know how their agenda will be advanced?
JZT: The MDC, as you might be aware pushed for the amendment of the Electoral Act so that security personnel do not vote in their barracks. The Special Voting System now gives them freedom to vote in secret and for whoever they want.
This system is such that no-one will know how they would have voted and their votes will be counted together with the rest of the civilians’ votes on July 31.
In addition, the mood amongst civilians in the constituency is to protect the constituency from being securitised, so they will vote in their multitudes come July 31.
CG: But there are reports which were saying that security personnel were told that the serial numbers of their special vote application forms will be linked to the serial number of the ballot paper.
JZT: That is hogwash. If that was said they were lied to in an attempt to intimidate them. There is absolutely no link and Zec has made this clear. Their vote is secret.
CG: So they have nothing to worry?
JZT: Absolutely. They, like any other citizen have suffered under Zanu PF rule and they want change for themselves and the future of their children.
They want better salaries, better education facilities and a functioning economy, which can only be realised under an MDC government.
They are tired of a system where only those on the top and those who are connected are enjoying the fruits of our country.
CG: What are you offering the people of Mount Pleasant?
JZT: Chris, I am a member of a team; The MDC Real Transformation Team. I am offering Mt Pleasant competent representation at local and national level in transforming our country, informed by five key policy pillars, that is, good governance based on the rule of law, and an end to Zanu PF’s governance culture of impunity, patronage, corruption and fear.
Secondly, Economic Reconstruction, Growth and Employment Creation driven by domestic and foreign investment to resuscitate our collapsed economy.
Thirdly, social transformation that will render health and education services accessible and affordable, including transforming the State from one that is feared to one that cares for its citizens.
Fourthly, the immediate restoration of broken relationships regionally and internationally.
Finally, the implementation of the devolution provisions of the Constitution. In this regard, I will advocate for the decentralisation to the Mt. Pleasant District Office of the following: The localisation of the Engineering and Works Department for the repair of roads; localisation of the repair of streetlights; localisation of the management of public health facilities such as clinics; localisation of the management of public education facilities; localisation of the management of council security services; and a share of the rates and service fees paid by Mt. Pleasant residents to be ploughed back into the district.