The State-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper, in its latest edition, reported that Zimbabwe will, inter alia, engage international experts for implementation of a biometric voting system for the 2018 general election.
Whilst the MDC welcomes any moves to ensure and guarantee the holding of a free and fair plebiscite in 2018, we should hasten to add that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should always strive to be sincere, honest, transparent and accountable in all its activities. Indeed, in terms of Section 238 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, ZEC shall ensure that elections and referendums are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law.
ZEC should be a truly independent and impartial electoral commission that should jealously guide its independence and integrity, at all times. Once the impartiality and independence of ZEC is placed in doubt, Zimbabwe can never hold free and fair elections that can pass the test of legitimacy. It is a notorious fact that since the year 2000, all elections held in this country have been hugely disputed.
In fact, the July 31, 2013 harmonised election really got to an unprecedented level in as far as electoral rigging is concerned. That particular election set a new record regarding the extent to which the Zanu PF regime can go in rigging elections in order to hold on to power. The level of rigging during the July 31, 2013 plebiscite was so remarkable that even several Zanu PF candidates in numerous Parliamentary constituencies were completely surprised when they were declared winners! The electoral rigging was engineered and masterminded by Nikuv; working in cahoots with some elements within ZEC as well as the Registrar-General’s Office.
Thus, the MDC strongly suspects that the afore-mentioned voter registration was conducted in a very sinister and shadowy manner that betrays the intention of the Zanu PF regime to rig the 2018 general election. We are extremely concerned that the thoroughly discredited office of the Registrar-General, fronted by one Tobaiwa Mudede, is still actively involved in the voter registration exercise. Mudede’s notorious and shameless record of assisting the Zanu PF regime to rig elections is very well-documented.
The Zanu PF regime is not committed to carrying out electoral reforms. This is shown by the regime’s reluctance to allow all political parties in this country to openly and freely liase with ZEC regarding the registration of voters. Indeed, in terms of Section 238 (c) and (d) of the Constitution, ZEC is mandated to register voters and compile voters’ rolls and registers.
The MDC is thoroughly disturbed by the role that Tobaiwa Mudede and his office still continue to play in the voter registration exercise. Mudede has been the Registrar-General since 1981 and he is way past the civil service retirement age of 65.What boggles the mind is that the Zanu PF regime, particularly, President Robert Mugabe, has not seen it fit to retire him regardless of the fact that he is several years above the official retirement age for civil servants.The MDC strongly suspects that Tobaiwa Mudede has been doing a hatchet job for the Zanu PF regime when it comes to the rigging of elections.
Because ZEC is financially and materially incapacitated, the MDC calls upon the Zanu PF regime to allow credible stakeholders such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to play a more significant and meaningful role in capacitating ZEC financially, materially and technically. The shadowy and CIO-linked secretariat that is presently working behind the scenes for ZEC should be immediately dismantled and disbanded.
ZEC should actually commence a fresh and brand new national biometric voter registration exercise.The national data base is already in existence and surely,working with capable technical partners such as the UNDP, it should pretty easy for ZEC to conduct a fresh and credible biometric national voter registration exercise.
Zimbabwe can simply not afford the luxury of holding another disputed election in 2018. Without holding a free and fair election that is credible, it is virtually impossible to extricate Zimbabwe from the prevailing political turmoil and socio-economic collapse.
MDC : Equal opportunities for all
Obert Chaurura Gutu
MDC National Spokesperson