Concerns over Zim elections grow

HARARE - There are growing fears that Zimbabwe is once again headed for a disputed poll — with the country’s main opposition insisting that it will announce the results of the keenly-anticipated plebiscite before the under-fire national elections management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), does so.

MDC Alliance presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa, was the first to warn that he would announce the results of the polls before Zec on Wednesday last week — a threat which was repeated by his key lieutenant, Tendai Biti, during a rally in Mutare at the weekend.

“This time we are going to announce the election (results), not Zanu PF. We have a system to have all the results from all the polling stations.

“So from voting, we will tell you where to go and wait in order to protect your votes,” Chamisa said while addressing supporters after his party’s massive demonstration against Zec in Harare last week.

Biti, who was arrested in 2008 and charged with treason for prematurely announcing the results of that hotly-disputed poll, also vowed at the weekend to repeat what he did a decade ago.

“I know I was arrested the last time I announced the results, but let me tell you that I am going to do it again after the July 30 elections because we have no confidence in Zec,” Biti told supporters at the MDC Alliance’s weekend rally.

The treason charges against Biti in 2008 were only dropped when ousted former president Robert Mugabe was forced into forming a government of national unity with the late popular opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, as Zimbabwe crumbled under the weight of a worsening economic crisis that was occasioned by the political mayhem.

In the meantime, analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday expressed grave concerns that the country’s July 30 national elections could be headed for irreconcilable disputes, due to claims by the opposition that Zec is compromised and acting with partiality.

This comes as Zec has said it is now willing to address some of the concerns of the MDC Alliance which has sent distress calls to both the regional Sadc block and the African Union (AU) — to get more involvement in the management of the forthcoming polls.

The crunch elections will for the first time in two decades not feature both Mugabe and Tsvangirai, who lost his valiant battle against colon cancer at the beginning of the year.

The opposition has cited a number of irregularities which it claims will dent the freeness, fairness and credibility of the poll.

In 2008, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe hands down in that year’s hotly-disputed elections. However, the results of those polls were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities — amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud, which were later revealed by former bigwigs of the ruling Zanu PF.

In the ensuing sham presidential run-off, which authorities claimed was needed to determine the winner, Zanu PF apparatchiks engaged in an orgy of violence in which hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed, forcing the former prime minister in the inclusive government to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.

Mugabe went on to stand in a widely-condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner.

However, Sadc and the rest of the international community would have none of it, forcing the nonagenarian to share power with Tsvangirai for five years, to prevent the country from imploding completely.

Against this background, a senior consultant for the International Crisis Group, Piers Pigou told the Daily News yesterday that it was understandable that Biti was contemplating announcing the results of this year’s poll ahead of Zec.

“There is nothing illegal about it when political parties or organisations run a parallel tabulating system, where they collate results from polling stations … it gives them an opportunity to compare what they will have come out with to what the official Zec result will be.

“Ordinarily, it is not necessary to do that unless there are genuine fears that Zec will not announce the correct results,” Pigou said.

But University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said while the opposition had problems with Zec, it was proper for them to follow the law and allow the national elections management body to announce the results.

“The MDC should have pushed for the amendment of the Electoral Act ... For the two (Chamisa and Biti), who are trained lawyers, to say that they will announce the results, it does not bode well for the elections and their (the two men’s) integrity.

“They can’t be unilateral in their approach as that will be going overboard ... and things could degenerate it anarchy,” he said.

Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, also said it was wrong for both Chamisa and Biti to make such threats, as this could cast doubt on their integrity.

“That is just political banter and nothing else ... Such recklessness could plunge the country into instability,” he said.

This year’s elections have generated a lot of interest among both ordinary Zimbabweans and ambitious politicians alike, with many people anticipating a close contest between Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, is seeking a substantive term in the July 30 harmonised elections, in which he will face the youthful Chamisa and 21 other presidential aspirants.

And for the first time in post-independent Zimbabwe there will also be female presidential candidates — four of them — taking on their male counterparts for the right to occupy the most powerful political office in the country after the plebiscite.

Comments (13)

Instead of the opposition political parties focusing their campaign on winning the voters' hearts they are more worried about leveling of the political playing field. The political field will never ever offer equal opportunities ti contesting parties at any election. A good example is the 1980 historic one where the majority of the "Rhodesian" black people were being accorded this right for the first time in their history. The entire environment was clouded in uncertainty & fear to the ruthlessness of the white racist minority government. Why are these growing concerns always emanating from the opposition, and yet so far they have enjoyed all the freedom they so desire inorder to successfully campaign.? Compared to 1980 and other previous elections that followed, there is no violence, no intimidation, etc. Campaign to the citizens or bonafide voters rather unnecessarily seeking attention & sympathy from the international community or observers for that matter.

Mbongozidana - 16 July 2018

I seem to detect the pre November 2017 political tendencies on the part of ZANU pf. ED claims he is different, in many ways he is different and I applaud him for that. I also want to remind the powers that be that Zimbabweans are also different. We tasted freedom...though it was a flash in the pan....still it was a grand moment for the country, for the people. Because we are also different we need to be treated different, with respect. The way ZEC conducted the police vote on behalf of ZANU pf seems to suggest that ZANU still think that Zimbabweans are a docile lot who will take the same maltreatment for the next 37 years without evening a sigh or a cry. We are here to change things for the better. ZANU pf has to decide whether it wants to change with us or be left behind.

Zimbabwe Unity Movement - 16 July 2018

If I may ask, What exactly does our opposition gain from the existence of political mayhem and economic crisis in this country?

Mbongozidana - 16 July 2018

But Mnangagwa remain the only serious man at the moment among the top contestants;the nation must give a chance to the so called new dispensation,could prove different fr Mugabe;but lets fire him if he fails by the next fall.The one term will b enough to test his real capabilities.He has already introduced the free&democratic zimbabwe we want,we only want to see the depth of his economic propositions.I don't think itz wise for ordinary for voters to merely choose to politic without relevant subsidence in the actions.Partisan politics should b only the preserve extreme party beneficiaries who include their party president,ours is to mix the bag with vision in specific areas

addmore gudo - 16 July 2018

But Mnangagwa remain the only serious man at the moment among the top contestants;the nation must give a chance to the so called new dispensation,could prove different fr Mugabe;but lets fire him if he fails by the next fall.The one term will b enough to test his real capabilities.He has already introduced the free&democratic zimbabwe we want,we only want to see the depth of his economic propositions.I don't think itz wise for ordinary voters to merely choose to politic without relevant subsidence in the actions.Partisan politics should b only the preserve of extreme party beneficiaries who include their party president,ours is to mix the bag with vision in specific areas

addmore gudo - 16 July 2018

If the people of this country are serious, they will see that it makes sense to vote for Mnangagwa so that he can be called upon to attend to all the ills that were created during the Mugabe era. The country is in such a mess that it would be foolhardy to expect a person like Chamisa to solve these problems. The fact that Mnangagwa seams to be speaking a totally different language to Mugabe is an indication that he plans to follow a different route from that of Mugabe. Especially addressing the contentious issues of Matebeleland and the highly fructured populance on ethnic grounds needs the last man standing to resolve the issues, not some new person who can easily claim that they are not responsible for the situation and therefore have no obligation. Careful thinking is needed here.

MR COOPER - 16 July 2018

Good Luck to all , Mnangagwa , Chamisa Khupe Nkosana etc. Kwandiri mese hamuna experience ku Economy , national security- EM , etc. Zvimwe zvinhu hazviitirwe kunze kwenyika. Hamukumbire ma chayina kana ma bhuritishi etc kuti vakugadzirireyi tekinoloji , yamusinganzwisise , hurema. Ukawona zvakadaro , for example Chiyina yakambonditi huya uzotiratidza tekinoloji yako , NYC based , Shanghai , vakanga vasingadi zvangu asi kukopa nekunditamba .Zvakavafambira zviripamutemo , ndozvinoitwa , muchigadzira mabasa. Munokwanisa kuseenza mese , Baba ne mwana. Mwana oyenda pamberi achirikumhanya.

Mujoni weku Bindura - 16 July 2018

Just how much experience did Bob, the brilliant Prime Minister, have to run a fine economy between 1980 and 1985? Just how much experience did Chiluba have that so as to achieve a tremendous recovery under his stewardship? Zimbabweans do not be fooled by this experience gibberish. Remember this dispensation started in 2008 with the short sleeves / long sleeves decapitation programme - that is when sections of the army took away our rights. The same institutions. Choose wisely Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Unity Movement - 16 July 2018

and the NEWSDAY newspaper has joined zec in campaining for zanu pf because they are not publishing commments that are anti zanu.the newsday is now like the herald newspaper

gafa - 16 July 2018

Vote ED for president. Vote for MDC ALLIANCE MPs. That way you do not rock the boat but for ED to work with opposition. Give ED one term. By 2023 Chamisa will be a man.

Dzvuke Muchaina - 17 July 2018

The campaign space vakatoramba nayo kare vanhu ve ZANU and haichina kana basa. But I am concerned ne rigging chete. Ballot paper ve ZEC vakaita design vega pavakaita divide 14/9 kuitira kuti IDHI ave pa number 1 pa page 2, but pa Star Fm madeko Chigumba says kwarakabva ndivo vakati muite design yakadi pava paya oti ma ballot box takaita recycle edu to suit zvatinoda...haaa mai vaya vakaoma so.

Manhanga - 17 July 2018

Finest economy 1980-85 , saka zvakazofamba seyi ?. 'INTO ZAMAKHIWA BABOMDALA , YA IYI RHODESIA , YENZANI OKWENYU MAKHIWA OMKHULUMO. Chiluba wechiyi ? , lets tell the truth , Africa hayisati yava na PRESIDENT. Kana ED anotonzi SIR EM , THE WHITE PRESIDENT. Kana mukamubvisa anonogara zvake mu Bhuriteni ne state pension yama PMs. Chamisa , vachamupfavisa nyore nyore.

Mujoni weku Bindura - 17 July 2018

pana chiluba manyepa cpomrade. aida kuto forcer extension ye term. the economy was only revioved under mwanawansa and it was due to to macoppper prices akawedzera pa world market following Chinese increased demand for copper. redo your political economy bra wami uzwile ZUM

tindo ngwenya - 17 July 2018

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