BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/ SHARON BUWERIMWE
OPPOSITION Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) yesterday threatened protests against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), accusing the election management body of attempting to rig March 26 by-elections.
Zec is being accused of illegally moving over 170 000 voters from their original constituencies and wards on the voters roll to be used for the March 26 by-elections, a move which critics say could affect the credibility of the polls.
The commission has dismissed the allegations of the irregular voter movement, but failed to clarify the anomaly.
CCC deputy spokesperson Gift Siziba told journalists that the party had cobbled up a number of strategies, including protests to force the government to implement electoral reforms and guarantee free and fair elections.
“Identity of documentation is one area of manipulation. There was supposed to be a blitz on the issuance of identity documents that goes parallel with the voters registration process. It is deliberate,” Siziba said.
“The first thing, as an interested party, is public interest litigation. That is why we are taking these issues to the courts.
“We have to exercise our constitutionally guaranteed right to make those demands, not just in the courtroom, but on the streets, because that is our constitutional right. We are going to be using different strategies and engagements to make sure that we have free, fair and credible elections. The question of fighting for reforms is a collective fight, but we do our moral responsibility as a political party.”
Siziba said the by-elections were a litmus test of Zec’s capacity to hold credible elections in 2023, but warned that the party could boycott the polls if the electoral field was not level.
Speaking at the same event, CCC secretary for elections Ian Makone said the country had nine million potential voters, but the government had deliberately deprived citizens access to identity cards.
He said Zec was making unilateral decisions without consulting stakeholders.
“Something is clearly wrong between the co-ordination of Zec and the Home Affairs ministry, which is going to cost the democratic space,” Makoni said, adding that failure to issue identity cards impacted on the delimitation and census exercises.
But Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa said CCC was panicking and sensing defeat ahead of the elections.
“They definitely will not wash with an electorate long wallowing in the miasma of flowing sewage, stinking uncollected garbage, dirty well water, pothole roads and stark lack of jobs,” Mutsvangwa said.
“The complaints are a crybaby ruse to appeal to the pro-sanctions pundits in Brussels, London and Washington. Alas, the accusations are now whistles in the dark. That faraway audience has melted away like Alpian snow in spring.”
Meanwhile, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) yesterday called on Zec to further decentralise the ongoing voter registration blitz.
“While welcoming the increase in voter registration statistics, the concerns we are seeing now with the low uptake of voter registration are eminently fixable. The ERC appeals to the electoral commission to further decentralise the registration process as the recorded numbers are affected by the inaccessibility of registration centres,” ERC said.
“There is a need for the Registrar-General’s Office to harmonise efforts with the electoral commission to ensure all youths are provided with national identity documents in order for them to participate in the registration blitz.”
The election watchdog said Zec should increase awareness of the voter registration blitz and synchronise efforts with other stakeholders for a wider reach.