Zanu PF rigging 2018 poll: MDC

Source: Zanu PF rigging 2018 poll: MDC – DailyNews Live
Fungi Kwaramba      5 June 2017

HARARE – A fresh political storm has erupted over the awarding of the
closely-scrutinised tender for the country’s biometric voter registration
(BVR) kits to a Chinese company by the under pressure Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (Zec).

Outraged members of the opposition told the Daily News yesterday that the
“controversial” award of the BVR tender was allegedly a ploy by the ruling
Zanu PF to “manipulate” the results of the eagerly-awaited 2018 national

This comes as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has also said it
has gathered “overwhelming information” that Zec wants to disenfranchise
voters in their urban strongholds, by increasing voter registration points
in rural areas.

Zec announced on Thursday last week that a Chinese company, Laxton Group,
had been awarded the hotly-contested tender to supply Zimbabwe with BVR
kits – prompting the MDC to react angrily to the development, claiming
that this was designed to benefit Zanu PF in the watershed 2018 polls.

“This (the awarding of the BVR tender to Laxton) is contrary to the
recommendation of the political parties that observed the BVR validation

“The reasons for the Zec behaviour are manifold. First, it was a clear
directive from the so-called State Procurement Board which was appointed
by the Zanu PF government.

“Secondly, it is simply the perpetuation of the friendship of Zanu PF and
the Communist Party of China. However, the main reason for this
unmeritorious award is to discourage our people from registering to vote.

“Zanu PF and Zec do not want Zimbabweans to register in their numbers as
this will clearly signal the end of Zanu PF.

“Our plea therefore to Zimbabweans is to ignore this act of discouragement
and register to vote en mass,” MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora

“We must convert this disadvantage into an advantage.  The obstacles that
the enemy is putting in the path of the people’s victory should motivate
us into working harder. We need to unite more than ever before and protect
our vote.

“We are also working hard to ensure that the process of voter registration
is not manipulated further. No amount of forgery, fraud or subterfuge can
defeat an idea whose hour has come. This is the time to unite,” he added.

However, Zanu PF laughed off MDC’s claims of rigging.

“Why should we rig elections, we have the people. We have the followers,
people like our policies and programmes that resonate with them,” said
Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo.

Zimbabwe’s quest to acquire BVR kits earlier this year caused a huge
political storm, with opposition parties viewing the government’s
involvement in the purchase of the equipment as problematic.

This was after the government suddenly decided to sideline the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from procuring the BVR kits, with
unanswered questions being raised about how and where President Robert
Mugabe’s stone-broke administration was able to secure funding for this,
to the staggering tune of $17 million.

The opposition alleged even then that the government had hijacked the
process to rig next year’s eagerly-anticipated national elections.

Tsvangirai and other opposition parties, coalescing under the banner of
the (National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) have been pushing for
much-needed electoral reforms ahead of the make-or-break polls – demanding
that Zec chairperson Rita Makarau ceases to hold two crucial, but
seemingly conflicting roles.

Makarau chairs Zec on a part-time basis while she holds a full-time
position of secretary to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) – the
appointing body for judiciary officials which also assigns and sets their
conditions of service.

Makarau confirmed to State media at the weekend, without naming Laxton
Group, that they had awarded the BVR tender to an undisclosed company.

“Our team is negotiating the terms of contract of supply with a team from
the selected supplier. Once the terms are agreed upon we will then advise
on the dates of delivery and date of commencement of the registration
exercise,” she said.

Laxton Group was apparently awarded the tender after it proposed a $3,9
million budget to supply the BVR kits, while another bidder – Demalog
Identification Systems of Germany – had charged $5,5 million.

Laxton Group is also said to have a footprint in Africa, supplying BVR
kits to countries that include Guinea and the Democratic Republic of

Last month the MDC claimed that Zec had allocated more BVR points in rural
areas than urban areas – raising fears that this was a plan to frustrate
urban voters into not registering.

Traditionally, the MDC has fared better in urban areas than in rural
areas, while Zanu PF has relied on the rural vote which both the
opposition and rights group say is secured through coercion and

“Zec wants to manipulate the voters’ registration by starving areas that
are perceived to be opposition strongholds, such as urban centres.

“A voters’ registration process should be transparent and inclusive, yet
that is not what is happening.

“The Zec subcommittee involving political parties has not yet received the
full report because this is all being done secretly,” MDC secretary for
elections, Murisi Zwizwai said then.

“We are aware that there is an invisible hand of Zanu PF in all this and
we are going to fight to ensure that Harare province, which has the
highest numbers in terms of population has the highest number of voter
registration centres,” Zwizwai added.

The MDC said from the information it had gathered, Bulawayo would have 392
centres, Matabeleland South 623 and Midlands 1 348 registration centres in
phase one of the registration exercise.

In phase two, Matabeleland North would tentatively have 764 registration
centres, Masvingo 1 238 and Manicaland, which would be dealt with in phase
three, would have 1 003 centres.

For phase three, Mashonaland East would have 1 200, while Mashonaland
Central would have 822.

In the final phase, Mashonaland West would have 1 303 centres, compared to
a mere 700 for Harare.

And yet according to the 2012 national census, Harare province – which
includes Chitungwiza and Ruwa – had the highest provincial population of 2
123 132, while Mashonaland West had a population of 1 501 656 people.

Tsvangirai also recently warned that Mugabe and his warring ruling Zanu PF
– fearful of losing the 2018 poll – were allegedly working feverishly to
steal next year’s elections.

His concerns emerged as the MDC president was concluding his tour of
Mashonaland East, where he interacted with traditional leaders – who
opened up to him on how they were allegedly being roped in by Zanu PF to
become part of the apparatus to ensure victory for the ruling party in

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.