Parties rally behind MDC poll demands

HARARE - Political parties, including Zapu and the Welshman Ncube led MDC, yesterday rallied behind Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC demands for transparency in the voter registration process.

At a closed door meeting between 18 political parties and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) also attended by under-fire Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, the political parties demanded that Mudede be restricted to the issuance of identity documents only.

Mudede has been the Registrar General for the past 33 years and stands accused of working in complicity with President Robert Mugabe’s party to rig elections. Mudede has repeatedly denied the charges.

Zapu spokesperson Mjubiso Noko, said Mudede failed to explain delays in the voter registration exercise.

“After the meeting Mudede tried to defend himself on the issue of mobile registration by blaming Finance minister Tendai Biti. He was saying he has not been given any money for the programme but no one listened to him.

“He could not say anything on the issue of ghost voters and the fact that people openly told him he and Zanu PF made things worse,” said Noko.

In a statement, MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora, said parties are concerned with the lack of transparency in the voter registration process.

“All the political parties expressed dismay at the manner in which the voter registration exercise was being carried out by the Registrar General’s office especially in the rural areas.

“The MDC demanded that the residence requirement under which potential registrants were required to furnish the Registrar’s offices with letters from traditional leaders to prove their residents in various wards must be scrapped. This is because this requirement was being abused in some areas resulting in some people being denied these letters by the traditional leaders on political grounds,” said Mwonzora.

The meeting between Zec and political parties was called for after the MDC wrote to the electoral body expressing concern over the preparations of the watershed elections especially on voter registration.

“The MDC submitted that the appointment of persons to run elections had to be done in a politically inclusive manner. This includes the appointment of voter educators as well as polling officers.

“During the referendum, Zec only appointed Zanu PF sympathisers in the form of ward youth officers to work as the polling officers. “This is unacceptable.

Although the government had announced that mobile voter registration targeting mainly rural communities was supposed to commence on January 3, 2013 nothing in that regard has materialised to date.

“The MDC demanded that the mobile voter registration exercise be embarked upon as a matter of urgency,” said Mwonzora.

Sources said all parties except Zanu PF demanded that Mudede’s wings should be clipped.

Some smaller parties that attended the meeting even threatened a poll boycott unless reforms are implemented.

Kisinoti Mukwazhe who leads the Zimbabwe Development Party (ZDP) said there is no need for elections if the office of the Registrar General is not reformed.

“Eight parties including ours indicated that if reforms are not put in place then they won’t be any need for elections. The voters roll is in shambles and Mudede who has rigged elections for Zanu PF should be removed from the process which must be led by Zec.

“The process of registering to be a voter is taxing and meant to frustrate first time voters,” said Mukwazhe. - Richard Chidza and Fungi Kwaramba

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