BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/OBERT SIAMILANDU/NUNURAI JENA
OPPOSITION Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa has called for United Nations-supervised elections in 2023 to avoid the possibility of a contested outcome.
Zimbabwe has a history of contested elections since the turn of the millennium, and Chamisa refused to concede defeat in the 2018 elections to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he accused of stealing the vote with the aid of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
Addressing supporters at a thank you rally at Nyamhunga Stadium in Kariba, Chamisa said people should vote in numbers with or without reforms while calling on the UN to supervise the elections.
“We expect reforms to be done before elections, but even if they refuse, go in numbers and vote to make rigging impossible. I am talking to the UN, Sadc [Southern African Development Community] and AU [African Union] because the UN should be there, polling agents at every polling station and all eyes should be on the election.
“The results should be traceable from the polling station to the national command centre and even the installation of the winner must be transparent. Presidential election results should also be announced from the polling station and not take days before they are announced to avoid manipulation,” Chamisa said.
“We do not want a situation where presidential results are kept a secret. Presidential results should not take five to six days like what is happening at the moment. Results must be displayed at polling stations just like council and parliamentary results.”
Chamisa took a swipe at Zec over its lack of independence, and accused Mnangagwa of manipulating the appointment process of commissioners.
“We are looking into the Zec issue because Mnangagwa is staffing it with his colleagues’ relatives for fear of losing the elections, but we do not care even if he becomes the chairperson (Zec) of the election. We want to win this election, we want to change Zimbabwe, we want to win big as long as you vote in numbers,” he said.
Addressing a Press conference in Harare on Friday, Chamisa vowed to contest in the 2023 harmonised elections, despite government’s reluctance to implement significant political and electoral reforms.
On Saturday, CCC lost the Gokwe-Kabuyuni constituency seat to Zanu PF’s Spencer Tshuma, who polled 10 727 votes, while CCC candidate Costin Muguti garnered 4 800.
Scores of opposition supporters and journalists were injured last week in violent attacks by Zanu PF youths, who mounted illegal roadblocks in attempts to stop Chamisa from passing through to address a rally in support of the CCC candidate.
Chamisa said the opposition party was engaging regional and international bodies to compel the Zanu PF-led government to level the political playing field.
“It’s a fight that we are going to undertake. What we need to see is the entrenchment of the Sadc and African Union protocols, values and principles of election that we are supposed to embark on. And I repeat, what they (Zanu PF functionaries) are doing is illegal and unconstitutional in terms of all the statutes within the country, in the region and on the continent,” Chamisa said.
“They want to make democracy a commodity, commodify elections and bring elections outside and out of the reach of many people. What are we going to do about it? We have already instituted a number of measures, the engagement of Sadc is one of them. But also, locally we are engaging all the key stakeholders to make sure that there is a collective voice around this matter.
“There is going to be a free and fair election in 2023 and we will have to make sure that that election is going to become a possibility. If there is no free and fair election in Zimbabwe, what it tells you is that the problems in our country will not end. We will leave no stone unturned. What we will do is give Zimbabweans a fighting chance to express themselves. We want to make sure that we exercise all the available options that are there to exercise peace in the country.”
Watchdogs, however, warned that the country was running out of time to implement electoral reforms ahead of the polls expected next year.
Posting on her Twitter handle, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere also reiterated that the party would contest in the upcoming elections against the “odds”.
“What recent days have shown is that CCC will win a free and fair election hands down. You can’t deprive citizens of a choice by beating them, burning them, banning rallies, torturing opponents, ‘assisting voters’ and assaulting journalists and call that ‘victory’,” Mahere tweeted.
Commenting on recent violent attacks, Zanu PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa rather accused CCC of perpetrating violence.
“Police say they have reports of violence from across the political divide. Notwithstanding the heat of by-elections, such violence is uncalled for as we seek unity and harmony in a democratic dispensation,” he said.
“President Mnangagwa called on his party supporters not to fall into provocations by an opposition which organises rallies that are bent on trolling Zanu PF. Parties need to do their best to help the police keep law and order in accordance with their statutory mandate.”