Opposition parties mull nationwide demos over BVR kits

OPPOSITION parties under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) banner are planning to hold nationwide demonstrations against the government’s decision to “hijack” the procurement of the biometric voter registration (BVR) kits from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Source: Opposition parties mull nationwide demos over BVR kits – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 22, 2017

BY Everson Mushava

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) last week said the government had taken over the process of procurement of BVR kits from UNDP.

But Nera, in conjunction with other opposition political parties, under the auspices of Coalition of Democrats (Code), said the government’s decision did not only prove that Zec is a captured institution, but showed President Robert Mugabe’s resolve to rig the 2018 general elections.

Zimbabweans United for Democracy (Zunde) president, Farai Mbira, said Nera and Code would be left with no option, but to take the Zanu PF government head-on if it insists on “hijacking” the process.

“We, therefore, demand that the current UNDP procurement process proceed undisturbed,” he said.

“We call upon all Zimbabweans from all walks of life to resist the rigging. To that extent, Nera and Code will close ranks in order to fight these attempts to manipulate the electoral process. A legal suit, as well as massive nationwide demonstrations, will be launched should the government persist with its evil agenda. To that end, the political parties will work together to ensure that the rights of the Zimbabwean people are not trampled under foot by this vile regime.”

The meeting was attended by MDC-T secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora, Renewal Democrats leader, Elton Mangoma, MDC-T deputy national chairman, Morgen Komichi, and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti from a ZimPF faction led by Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa, among many others.

Nera, last year, held a series of demonstrations demanding electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 general elections. Some of the demonstrations culminated in violence that left many opposition supporters hospitalised, as police responded with brute force.

Mbira said opposition parties were shocked by the government’s decision to elbow out UNDP, saying: “Even more flabbergasting was the decision by Zec to endorse this illegal move by the government.

“This is now government rigging the next elections and we cannot allow that to happen with our complicity or agreement.”

Mbira said Zimbabwe was part of the United Nations and any programme involving UNDP and Zec could not be said to be violating the country’s sovereignty.

Nera called for an independent Zec that does not operate on the whims of the ruling party.

“We, therefore, demand that Zec be disbanded and reconstituted by agreement of all political parties. If that cannot be done, then we resort to the 1980 vote system, where voters needed to produce an identity card on voting day only,” Mbira said.

On Monday, Mwonzora, who is the Nera head of legal affairs, wrote to Zec chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, demanding an explanation on the government’s decision to take over the procurement of the BMV kits.

“We, therefore, demand that the current procurement process must proceed undisturbed. We would appreciate your response as soon as possible. We should make it clear that we will resist (through lawful means, of course) any move by the government and Zec to change goal posts at this stage,” part of Mwonzora’s letter to Makarau, dated February, 20 read.