HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has said the chaotic special vote has exposed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s lack of preparedness for a free, fair and credible July 31 poll.
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told a press conference in Harare yesterday that though his party has respect for Zec commissioners and its chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, it was dismayed by the actions of the electoral body’s secretariat, which he alleged was taking instructions from a “chaos faction” of Zanu PF.
Biti said the MDC had been vindicated in its calls for reconstitution of the Zec secretariat.
“It is evident that our fears are being vindicated,” he said.
Since the special voting exercise started on Sunday, the process has been marred by delays in the dispatching of ballot papers, administrative blunders and blatant violation of the electoral law.
“Some observers are still demanding a free and fair election but that is too late. The election is immoral, illegal and unfair,” Biti said.
“We are really worried about Zec and we have lost our institutional respect despite our respect for some individuals because it has been hijacked by the Junta and our claims that it needs restructuring have been vindicated.
“It is self evident that there is a disconnect between the commission’s apex and its junior officials in the provinces as there are clear violations of the electoral processes. Clearly there is a hidden hand behind the chaos after some people suddenly realised that this group (of officers) is not a captive constituency so they have taken over the process.”
The MDC secretary-general complained that in some areas such as Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Masvingo, their election agents were turned away allegedly because they were not accredited yet they had been duly endorsed by the electoral commission.
He said in Harare’s Mount Pleasant, voting was not a secret as voters were being called into the polling station before voting, a situation he described as “regrettable and totally unsustainable”.
“Voting in some areas was characterised by inadequacy of ballot papers because those printed had no relationship whatsoever with the over 70 000 that applied for special voting,” Biti said.
“In Mabvuku-Tafara they totally discarded the voters’ roll and anyone could simply vote; while in Nkayi illegal electoral practices were reported where Zanu PF candidates slaughtered beasts for Zec officials just 100m away from the polling station.”
Biti said he was happy that some members of the force had leaked information to the MDC “because they were tired of being used by Zanu PF.”
He said his party was putting in place mechanisms to stop the shenanigans which include approaching the courts, engaging Zec and Sadc and “other means which I clearly cannot disclose”.
“When you force people to cheat, you may realise that they are not with you because right now we have been informed that in Kwekwe for example, fake force numbers were created.
“It is unacceptable and illegal. Zec discarded the voters’ roll and is using illegal election practices,” he said.
Biti queried why 70 000 applications had been made when the police had an estimated contingent of 45 000.
“No one is recruited without Treasury concurrence,” said Biti, adding that the MDC had managed to get hold of a copy of the full list of civil servants who had applied for special voting and will be analysing it comprehensively to expose any rigging that may occur.
Joyce Kazembe, Zec deputy chairperson, ruled out electoral malpractice at a Monday press conference.
“We have adequate security. Because of time limitations, we were not able to ask for a printed voters’ roll, but we have lists which are open for inspection by the public and scrutiny,” she said.
“We had not anticipated court challenges, but we are ready for the polls. By end of next week, all ballot papers will be ready as we gear for the harmonised elections on July 31.”
Zec not ready for polls: MDC