'Axe Mudede before polls'

HARARE - Knives are out for Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede ahead of a crucial Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) meeting slated for today, with ruling MDC parties calling for his removal before elections.

Fireworks are expected at today’s Zec meeting when the electoral commission gleans views of ruling and opposition political parties.

Zec chief elections officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi, confirmed the electoral body will meet political parties at its offices today.

“I can confirm we will be meeting representatives of all political parties in the country tomorrow (today),” Sekeramayi told the Daily News yesterday. “We would like to hear the concerns of the political parties and at the moment I cannot tell what kind of issue they will bring to the table. Zec is willing to listen.”

According to the meeting’s agenda, Zec wants to do a post-mortem of the constitutional referendum as well as discuss the voters’ roll.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo was unavailable for comment, and administration secretary Didymus Mutasa declined to comment.

“Handisi kudaba kutaura nePress mazuva ano (I am not talking to the Press these days),” Mutasa said.

While Douglas Mwonzora, spokesperson of  Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC was unavailable for comment, a top party official who requested anonymity said they will demand Mudede’s ouster.

“Mudede’s hands are dirty,” said the senior MDC Standing Committee member.

“He has been complicit in the rigging of all previous elections and it is time he takes no part in our electoral processes if we are serious about a credible poll.

“We will also raise the issue of the voters’ roll, partisan registration of voters in favour of Zanu PF and of course the emotive issue of the Zec secretariat.”

He said Zec officials with a military and intelligence background were not welcome to preside over the crucial poll.

“Most of them are compromised and would never be impartial in their conduct. The availability of the voters’ roll to the generality of the people as well as political parties is also a prominent issue we would like discussed as well as the difficulties citizens are facing when trying to register as voters.”

Qhubani Moyo, Welshman Ncube’s MDC policy director said they will push for the removal of Mudede.

“Mudede must go given his not so rosy history of rigging elections on behalf of Zanu PF,” Moyo told the Daily News.

“He has become a national liability. We cannot have such partisan officials manning our electoral processes. Our people have been arrested while trying to register as voters in Lupane two weeks ago and we have a record and police report of that. In Bulawayo and at the United Bulawayo Hospitals, there is a mobile registration centre preserved for the security services only. We have complained about this with Zec.”  

However, Sekeramayi said: “We have not received such reports. In fact that is why we have convened this meeting and we can only comment as and when we are officially notified.”

Moyo said: “At Nketa, our supporters were also denied registration last week and there has been systematic denial of citizens viewed to be hostile to Zanu PF when they intend to register as voters.”

But Mudede  told a news conference last week that he does not ask for anyone’s political affiliation when it comes to voter registration.

“That’s rubbish, no one is asked his or her political party when we are dealing with voter registration,” Mudede said.
 
The smaller MDC policy director complained that the $30 000 charged for a party to get a copy of the voters’ roll was extortionate and meant to deny some parties access to the voter register.

Opposition Zapu spokesperson Mjobisa Noko said: “We want an immediate clean-up of the roll and removal of individuals who have become part of the fixtures and fittings at the Registrar General’s office. These have ceased to be professional because their jobs are tied to certain political establishments.”

Opposition Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) has also been invited to the meeting.

MDC-99 president Job Sikhala said they were yet to receive the Zec invitation.

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