The opposition MDC-T has vowed to lead demonstrations by political parties under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) banner to fight government’s decision to hijack the procurement of biometric voter registration (BVR) kits from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
By KHANYILE MLOTSHWA
MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, who heads the Nera legal affairs department, said his party will gather its arsenal to take charge of the protest to push government to honour an earlier agreement with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) that UNDP will be in charge of the procurement of BVR kits.
“The MDC-T has to assume its full responsibility in this struggle,” he said on Tuesday.
“We will, therefore, be advising our people of the dates of the historic demonstrations. Together, we will win. Victory is certain.”
Nera last week said it was organising a fresh round of protests against government’s decision to wrest the procurement process from UNDP and Zec, accusing President Robert Mugabe’s administration of plotting to rig the 2018 general elections through the voter registration process.
The government has, however, denied hijacking the procurement of the kits, claiming it would only fund the process, an explanation the opposition parties have refused to buy.
Mwonzora said allowing the government to procure the kits will undo a lot of hard work that has been done towards electoral reforms in the country.
“Suddenly, the government announced that it was taking over the BVR kits procurement process,” he said. “Among other things, this means that the government will now select the supplier of these kits.”
Political parties and other stakeholders will, thus, not be able to monitor the process.
“Nera totally rejects this move because it is designed to enable the government to manipulate the procurement process. That way the government will also manipulate the 2018 election process. In other words, this move marks the beginning of the rigging of the 2018 elections. We, therefore, call upon all Zimbabweans to rise up and resist this manipulation.”
Mwonzora said Nera was organising nationwide demonstrations “to show the people’s outrage at this political abomination”.
“Thus all Zimbabweans irrespective of their political affiliation are called to action,” he said.
Mwonzora recalled how since 2015, his party, through Nera has waged a fight for electoral reform in Zimbabwe, forcing Zec to the negotiating table last year after a series of demonstrations across the country.
“On the negotiating table, Nera extracted a number of concessions from Zec,” he said.
“These included the construction of a new voters’ roll through the BVR system, a transparent and inclusive voter education programme and regular meetings between Zec and political parties through the Zec-political parties platform.”