'Zanu PF rigging well underway'

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says Zanu PF rigging is well underway as scores of civil servants and other strategically-positioned citizens are surreptitiously registering as voters.

This also comes as the funding and pronouncement of a much-anticipated election date are unclear, and which issues have allegedly frustrated the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) whose chairperson Simpson Mtambanengwe resigned this week.

However, Zanu PF secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa yesterday dismissed the allegations as nonsense.

“Is it rigging elections when we register soldiers and their spouses? Tell them (MDC) that I said pfutseki. Soldiers are close to us dating back from the liberation struggle and should we abandon them because we are now sharing power with Tsvangirai?

“Soldiers are Zimbabweans and they should vote just as trade unionists vote for the MDC,” the Zanu PF number five man said on Friday, adding “soldiers are close to us” and there was no issue in that process.

With the official registration process reportedly in shambles and elections only a few months away, the ex-majority party is leaving nothing to chance after a shattering defeat in the 2008 polls, which led to the Government of National Unity (GNU).

And as the keenly-awaited polls draw by or close, President Robert Mugabe’s party has launched several initiatives, including door-to-door campaigns where bemused, and frightened members of the public are being forced to register, and buy Zanu PF cards.

On the other hand, the 50-year-old movement is also using village heads and chiefs to swell up its numbers at grassroots levels.

However, the MDC’s latest complaint centres on a Zanu PF strategy and where members of the uniformed forces’ families are being sneakily registered — in urban centres — ahead of the key elections.

Yesterday, Tsvangirai’s party said it had noted — with dismay — a process at Tredgold Building in Bulawayo and where the selective registration of voters was already underway.

“The MDC condemns the selective registration process of people which targets security personnel and people aligned to Zanu PF. The exercise is flawed and reminiscent of the rogue processes employed by the drowning party towards democratic elections,” it said in a statement late on Friday.

The facility, it added, was also used by the security forces to carry out its Maguta operations.

But critically, the on-going exercise had raised fears and suspicious of vote rigging by the octogenarian leader’s party, as it was exclusively for the military’s rank and file.

According to the MDC, voter registration exercises for the public had been halted in January in Zimbabwe’s second largest.

Recently, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri compounded these fears for an exclusive process after urging wives of senior police officers to not only register, but also vote for Zanu PF in the pending elections.

As things stand, police officers at Harare’s Morris Depot have been instructed to register for the watershed polls, sources told the Daily News on Friday.

Ever since Tsvangirai’s party entered into an uneasy coalition with Mugabe’s Zanu PF four years ago, the parties have been squabbling over a number of issues, including critical security sector reforms ahead of polls this year.

Amid heightening clashes over the electoral process in the ruling coalition, the Registrar General’s office has been slated for duplicating roles with the Zec, thus raising further concerns about the status of the country’s voters’ role.

Consistently, the Joyce Kazembe-led institution has said it would intensify voter registration and education exercises once funding is availed.

While there are growing fears about a parallel electoral system and the army’s role in Zimbabwe’s public affairs, other democratic players such as civic organisations have been barred from involvement in the process.

And those that have suffered in the process, include Habakkuk Trust, the National Youth Development, Zimbabwe Peace Project and Zimbabwe Human Rights.

Instead, Mugabe’s party is wont on using its tried and tested allies in the security sector, and some of who have also threatened a coup should their preferred candidate lose an election.

To this end, Zanu PF has also resisted attempts to reform this critical sector even though these are part of the Southern Africa Development Community’s mediation efforts.

“The intimidation tactics are not new as Zanu PF has always employed the same tactics before national elections,” the MDC said.

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