HARARE – The electoral irregularities witnessed in the just-ended Zanu PF provincial elections are a replica of what the nation experienced during the July 31 harmonised elections, analysts said yesterday.
Zanu PF, which had suffered a crushing defeat to the opposition in the 2008 vote, turned the tide in 2013 polls, cruising to a landslide victory that saw President Robert Mugabe re-elected by 61 percent of the votes amid allegations of rigging.
Although African Union (AU) observers expressed concern over the conduct of the polls, they described them as free and an improvement from the bloody 2008 elections.
Local observers on the other hand say the election was not fair because a substantial number of eligible people failed to cast their votes owing to logistical problems.
The MDC alleged Zanu PF had rigged the election with help from Israeli, China and local intelligence units.
Now losing candidates in the ruling party’s provincial elections are also saying the winners in the Zanu PF internal election rigged the poll, which was blighted with irregularities.
Killian Sibanda, a losing candidate in Bulawayo was quoted in the local media saying; “I do not know who tampered with the voters’ roll in Harare.”
Ailes Baloyi, another losing candidate who contested in Masvingo, said; “I do not accept the results because there were a lot of irregularities in the election process.
“For example, there were some party structures in areas such as Gutu and Bikita that were arbitrarily disbanded, meaning that some people who were supposed to vote ended up not voting.”
Some of the losing candidates said party members had been robbed of their democratic right to vote for their preferred candidate.
On the other end, winning candidates like Amos Midzi said the election was above board with the party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa also saying the process had gone according to plan.
It now appears that the same issues raised by the opposition MDC in the July 31 poll like inaccurate voters’ roll, late distribution of ballot papers, vote buying and transport problems are similar to those raised in the just-ended Zanu PF provincial elections.
Maxwell Saungweme, a political analyst, said the nightmares experienced during the provincial elections were synonymous traits of the ruling party.
“The late distribution of ballot papers, voter buying, logistical and transport nightmares and outright rigging have been characteristic of the Zanu PF government mismanagement of elections since 2000 and the same loopholes and rigging tactics were repeated in 31 July poll,” Saungweme said.
The Afghanistan-based analyst said he was not surprised that Zanu PF provincial polls were plagued by the same irregularities.
“Zanu PF has been mixing up party and government business and the same modalities used to rig and mismanage national elections are used at its own polls,” he said.
“It’s the same people who engineer all electoral irregularities at national and party levels.
“It’s just the people wearing different hats and it will be foolhardy not to think that the irregularities will be same.”
Charles Mangongera, another analyst, said the same instruments used to rig the national elections had also been employed in the provincial elections.
“The electoral irregularities in the Zanu PF provincial elections are a microcosm of the grand electoral theft that we witnessed on July 31,” Mangongera said.
“This is hardly surprising given that the same architects of the national election rigging machinery were at the centre of the party electoral rigging machinery.”
He added: “After securing victory for Zanu PF in the national elections, the CIO, police and other state security agencies are now deeply involved in Zanu PF succession politics and they played a key role in the provincial elections.”