Fungi Kwaramba 1 March 2017
HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says President Robert Mugabe
and his warring ruling Zanu PF – fearful of receiving an even bigger poll
shellacking than they got in 2008 – are already working feverishly to
steal next year’s make-or-break harmonised elections.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke
Tamborinyoka said the former prime minister during the era of the
stability-inducing government of national unity was gravely concerned by
the “overwhelming information” that the MDC had received, which pointed to
the fact that Zanu PF was “already in the process of stealing next year’s
Among some of the “dirty methods” the ruling party – which is wracked by
its deadly tribal, factional and succession wars – was allegedly using to
rig the 2018 polls, was hijacking the country’s biometric voter
registration (BVR) process, as well as abusing traditional leaders.
Tsvangirai’s concerns emerged as the MDC president was concluding his
successful tour of Mashonaland East, where he interacted with traditional
leaders – who opened up on how they were already being roped in by Zanu PF
to become part of the rigging apparatus to ensure victory for the ruling
party in 2018.
This all comes as much controversy has erupted over the past few weeks,
following the government’s suspicious decision to sideline the United
Nations’ Development Programme (UNDP) in the procurement of the BVR kits,
with unanswered questions being raised about how and where Mugabe’s
stone-broke administration was suddenly able to secure funding for this to
the staggering tune of $17 million.
“There is a plan by Zanu PF to steal next year’s elections. We have been
on the ground here in Mashonaland East and what we are seeing and hearing
is that Zanu PF wants to steal the next elections again, after they took
over the BVR process, in addition to commandeering chiefs, village heads
and headmen on board this devious scheme.
“However, we will do all that we can to ensure that traditional leaders
are not abused and absorbed into Zanu PF structures? Indeed, the rights of
traditional leaders must and will be observed,” the resolute Tamborinyoka
Traditional chief after traditional chief had apparently told Tsvangirai
during his tour of the restive Mashonaland East Province, which is
traditionally a Zanu PF stronghold, that they were being forced to not
only join the ruling party, but to also lead its cells and wards – and to
actively work to help rig next year’s polls.
“The fearful village heads all said they were forced to be chairpersons of
Zanu PF’s cells. That way, Zanu PF will coerce them to frog-march people
to vote for the ruling party.
“So, the sum total of Zanu PF’s ploy is that it is assimilating
traditional leaders into its partisan structures, abusing them in the
process,” Tamborinyoka added.
The president of the chiefs’ council, Fortune Charumbira, was not
reachable for a comment yesterday. However, he has previously and
controversially declared that every traditional leader is duty bound to
support the ruling party, which often pampers them with goodies, money and
luxury vehicles ahead of elections.
Much concern has also been raised after Zanu PF, which always abuses State
resources to bribe and intimidate rural voters in particular, is said to
be communicating the scandalous message that through the BVR process “it
will capture and establish the fingerprints of villagers” and thus be able
to identify and punish those who will vote for opposition parties.
“Fear and intimidation are emerging to be the key issues in Mashonaland
East. The community leaders cited very specific names of the culprits, as
well as incidents to explain how fear, coercion and intimidation were the
major instruments being used by Zanu PF to cow villagers and keep rural
communities at ransom.
“But the president (Tsvangirai) assured them that the people’s vote was
secret and that it was a lie by Zanu PF that they would be able, through
the BVR process, to see where the people had placed their vote,”
Apart from intimidating villagers, Zanu PF also continues to dish out food
hampers, including rice, while also falsely claiming that the monthly
allowances that traditional leaders get will be withdrawn should another
party come into power.
“The fact is that this is not Zanu PF money, and Zanu PF should not
misrepresent itself as the State. The president also emphasised this to
the traditional leaders,” Tamborinyoka said.
Since last year, the MDC – working with other opposition parties through
the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) – has been demanding
comprehensive electoral reforms to level the political playing field.
It has also been engaging the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), which
it says is infested with Zanu PF functionaries who are there only to look
after the interests of the ruling party.
MDC secretary-general and Nera legal advisor, Douglas Mwonzora, told the
Daily News yesterday that there was need to carefully analyse why the
government had “from the blue” chosen to go it alone in the procurement of
“It was agreed that the procurement of the BVR kits would be done by Zec
through the UNDP. Consequently, a joint advertisement was flighted by the
UNDP and Zec calling upon all potential suppliers of these kits to place
“These bids were opened at the UNDP offices in Copenhagen and this was
witnessed by both Zec and political parties. It was further agreed that
once the winner of the tender was declared, political parties would second
their technical experts to inspect these kits.
“But suddenly, the government announced that it was taking over the BVR
kits procurement process. Among other things, this means that the
government will now select the supplier of these kits.
“Political parties and other key stakeholders will thus not be able to
monitor the process,” Mwonzora pointed out.
With the experience of the 2013 election results, where an Israeli
company, Nikuv, allegedly manipulated the vote in favour of Zanu PF, there
are fears that Zanu PF will temper with next year’s crucial elections.
“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 . . . To this end Nera is 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,” Mwonzora added.