MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday called on First Lady Grace Mugabe to be punished for using goods confiscated by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to allegedly buy votes ahead of next year’s crunch general elections, where President Robert Mugabe (93) is expected to face a united opposition.
Source: Punish looting Grace: Tsvangirai – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 10, 2017
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Speaking at a Press briefing soon after chairing the first MDC-T national executive committee meeting after month-long countrywide consultations with opinion leaders, Tsvangirai also claimed that Zanu PF had put in motion plans to rig elections using Israeli firm, Nikuv International Projects.
“Vote-buying by any means should be made a serious, punishable offence. We have seen key government actors associated with Zanu PF overtly buying votes with rice and Zimra-confiscated items, among other vote-buying gimmicks,” Tsvangirai said in apparent reference to Grace.
This came as Zanu PF has reportedly been dishing out government-sourced food hampers, agricultural inputs and stands to supporters at its rallies throughout the country.
During the recent parliamentary by-elections in Norton, Chimanimani and Bikita West, the party also distributed food hampers, groceries and unserviced land as residential stands to sway the votes in favour of its candidates.
At a recent rally in Buhera, Grace admitted that the goods she distributed during her whirlwind tours were confiscated by Zimra from smugglers and importers who failed to pay customs duty.
She claimed that her enemies in Zanu PF were writing letters so that she would not receive material support for her rallies.
“Letters have been written so that I will not be given anything to come and give you. I am the First Lady and can I go to the people empty-handed? I don’t think that is proper and I will not do that,” she said.
But Tsvangirai said such vote-buying actions by Grace and Zanu PF functionaries were abuse of State resources.
“We saw these antics in Norton and Bikita West, as well as in Buhera where Zimra goods were donated at the same time when the nation was being threatened with a corpse as a Presidential candidate. Apart from being a punishable offence, vote-buying should be a basis for disqualification, even before the election is held,” he said.
The MDC-T leader, who will be contesting against Mugabe for the fourth time since 2000, reiterated his calls for the compilation of a fresh and credible voters’ roll ahead of the 2018 polls.
“A credible voters’ roll is mandatory and if there is continued dithering and subversion of the biometric voter registration (BVR) process, then we can ensure that prospective voters simply produce their IDs, as happened in the election of 1980,” Tsvangirai opined.
The main opposition leader said the government’s aim was to subvert the procurement of BVR kits because it wanted Nikuv to get registered under surrogate names to enable it to win the tender to supply the kits.
Opposition parties accuse Nikuv of rigging elections in behalf of Zanu PF.
“If Zimbabwe proceeds to use the BVR system, which Zanu PF is not keen to do, we are also aware of plans to have Nikuv International Projects work with some named Indian companies in hacking or engaging in cyber-attacks on the whole electoral system once it becomes clear that the results are not going in Zanu PF’s favour,” Tsvangirai claimed.
He called on the opposition to unite and demonstrate against “this theft” of elections later this month.
“Whether in the courts or in the streets, we shall fight all attempts to steal the next election and we fully endorse the resolution that we took with others under the banner of Nera (National Electoral Reform Agenda) to mobilise Zimbabweans for a public protest on March 22,” Tsvangirai urged his supporters.