Fungi Kwaramba 10 April 2017
HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC says the chaos and
irregularities witnessed in the weekend’s Mwenezi East by-election – which
had an unusually high voter turnout despite the warring Zanu PF contesting
against little known opponents – were a bad omen for 2018.
The MDC’s statement yesterday came in the wake of Zanu PF retaining the
seat when its candidate, Joosbi Omar, secured 18 700 votes against the
poor showing of candidates from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
and the Free Zimbabwe Congress party.
The weekend’s mini-poll was marred by allegations of intimidation,
partisan food distribution and massive confusion on the voting day.
“Zanu PF know that they are deeply unpopular with the masses. So, what the
regime has done is to ring-fence rural areas and to use chiefs and other
traditional leaders as its political commissars.
“Villagers are commandeered into voting for Zanu PF to continue to stay
safely in their villages and to continue accessing food aid and other
assistance from the government.
“In other words, Zanu PF is abusing the people’s poverty and destitution
that it created. People in rural areas are vulnerable to intimidation
because they are constantly reminded of the June 2008 violence in which
many people were killed and maimed, but no culprit was ever brought to
“The Zanu PF regime is now harvesting from this state of fear and
hopelessness,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
As if to underline the chaos which beset the Mwenezi East by-election,
where many voters were turned away, even Omar was among those who
struggled to vote on the day.
He was only able to cast his vote at the third attempt, after travelling
almost 20 kilometres from the original polling station that he had
The build-up to the by-election had also been sullied by allegations of
intimidation and vote buying – which forced one of the better known
candidates, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, to withdraw from the contest.
Civil society group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) reported
“widespread confusion” at polling stations, leading to many voters being
Zesn said most of the confusion arose as a result of poor voter education
on the polling station-based voters’ roll, which resulted in many voters
turning up at the wrong polling stations.
During his tour of Mashonaland East in February this year, Tsvangirai was
told of how Zanu PF was using traditional leaders to intimidate villagers.
Speaking to the Daily News then, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke
Tamborinyoka said the former prime minister was gravely concerned by the
“overwhelming information” that the MDC had received which pointed to the
fact that Zanu PF was “already in the process of stealing next year’s
Traditional chief after traditional chief had apparently told Tsvangirai,
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
“There is a plan by Zanu PF to steal next year’s elections. We have been
on the ground here in Mashonaland East and what we are seeing and hearing
is that Zanu PF wants to steal the next elections again.
“However, we will do all that we can to ensure that traditional leaders
are not abused and absorbed into Zanu PF structures? Indeed, the rights of
traditional leaders must and will be observed,” Tamborinyoka said then.
“The fearful village heads all said they were forced to be chairpersons of
Zanu PF’s cells. That way, Zanu PF will coerce them to frog-march people
to vote for the ruling party.
“So, the sum total of Zanu PF’s ploy is that it is assimilating
traditional leaders into its partisan structures, abusing them in the
process,” Tamborinyoka added.