HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday raised alarm over the prospect of electoral fraud with observer missions from the African Union (AU) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
Luke Tamborinyoka, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, told reporters after a meeting with the two missions that his boss had highlighted his escalating worry over gerrymandering, electoral malpractice, unimplemented reforms which were meant to enhance election credibility, amid growing concerns that the Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) will once again botch the July 31 vote.
Tsvangirai told the two missions about Zec’s failure to engage MDC on the printing of ballot papers and other crucial information together with the chaos experienced during two-day special vote and voter registration exercise.
Rita Makarau, the Zec chairperson, said on Wednesday binding and numbering of ballot papers was now underway, adding that the papers had since been disbursed to six provinces while the remainder would be sent out by Saturday.
“The Prime Minister is also worried about the insufficiency of polling stations in urban areas and that some polling stations are stationed on Zanu PF-owned farms, compromising voter freedom,” Tamborinyoka said.
“He also voiced his worry over the Zec secretariat, which is the same secretariat which failed to announce results in time.”
The electoral commission took five weeks to announce the 2008 election results when President Robert Mugabe came second to Tsvangirai in the first round of the presidential race.
But under the new Constitution, Zec is obliged to announce the results of the presidential vote within five days from polling day.
Tsvangirai told the AU and Comesa observers about the lack of implementation of key reforms in the electoral, media and security sectors that were agreed by the unity government partners.
“The Prime Minister discussed the Sadc resolutions which were meant to enhance election credibility, but there is no movement whatsoever in terms of media and security reforms,” Tamborinyoka said.
Sadc’s point man in the Zimbabwe dialogue, South Africa President Jacob Zuma said in his facilitator’s report tabled before the Maputo summit of regional leaders last month that it would be appropriate and necessary that Mugabe draws the attention of the heads of the security forces, their members, as well as the public of Zimbabwe to the new constitution.
“It is important that this is done publicly so that members of the security forces as well as the public are made aware of these requirements,” Zuma’s report said.
Sadc has deployed over 4 000 observers to Zimbabwe for the make-or-break vote.
“The public media is still biased towards Zanu PF and the security apparatus are still to make a public statement denouncing their allegiance to political parties as directed by Sadc,” Tamborinyoka said.
He spoke as State TV refused to flight Tsvangirai’s paid-for campaign adverts, while giving generous coverage to Mugabe’s campaign rallies and adverts casting aspersions on the MDC leader’s candidacy.
Tsvangirai briefed the observers about the current election environment.
“He also mentioned incidences of intimidation being experienced in Mashonaland provinces,” Tamborinyoka said.
Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat from Kenya, the head of the Comesa mission, said he could not give the 27-member observer team’s analysis of the election environment as they had just arrived in the country.
“We are here at the moment to touch base with various stakeholders in this,” Kiplagat said.
“We have met Sadc, we have been to the commission (Zec) and met the commission, and we have met the European Union,” Kiplagat said soon after emerging from a closed-door session with Tsvangirai.
“We have come here as part of our programme of monitoring elections, we have monitored 19 elections since 2005, in seven countries of Comesa.”
Kiplagat wished the people of Zimbabwe the best in the upcoming elections, described by analysts as “watershed.”