Tsvangirai dismisses Zimbabwe poll as a ‘farce’
By fstimes On 2 Aug, 2013 At 09:21 AM | Categorized As Africa | With 1 Comment

tsvangiraiThe Southern African Development Community’s observer mission has described the election as credible despite “voters’ roll issues”.

Zimbabwe is gripped by fear that the country could fall back into 2008-style post-election violence, as citizens anxiously wait for an announcement of Wednesday’s election results amid indications on Thursday that the ruling Zanu-PF was heading for a landslide victory.

Zanu-PF politburo member Saviour Kasukuwere told the Guardian newspaper on Thursday that it was “a landslide” victory for his party. “A total annihilation of the MDC. Their project has failed.”

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Incumbent Robert Mugabe’s main opponent, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T’s) Morgan Tsvangirai, has already said he will not recognise the elections outcome if the long-serving president is declared a winner.

Tsvangirai, who has worked as Mugabe’s prime minister in the government of national unity for the past five years, dismissed the election, claiming voter intimidation and ballot-rigging by Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.

“This has been a huge farce,” Tsvangirai told journalists at his ­party’s headquarters in Harare. “In our view, that election is null and void. It does not meet SADC [Southern African Development Community], AU [African Union] and international standards for a … free and fair election.”

The SADC observer mission declared the election “credible, even though there are issues with the voters’ roll”.

Different opinions
Political analysts differ on what to make of this election, called a watershed for different reasons. For some, it is an election that is meant to finally bury Mugabe’s political career while others believe it has created an opportunity for the 89-year-old to firmly grasp the steering wheel.

Voting was peaceful and appeared free in most parts of the country, with the only noise being an occasional whine when someone tried to jump the queue. Generally, voters were civil to each other, while no one dared to wear party regalia.

Douglas Kupara, a voter from Chitungwiza, commended the ­peaceful environment

“In 2008, it was like demons were running around. People would hide their fingers because they wouldn’t know what would happen to them,” said Kupara. “On your way home, you’d be asked who you voted for. But now I’m not afraid to show my finger.”

About 200 MDC supporters were killed in unrest that broke out after Mugabe lost the first round of the 2008 elections.

But some said this year’s rosy picture was designed precisely to hide Zanu-PF’s vote rigging, widely alleged by Tsvangirai’s MDC-T.

Declared prematurely
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said the election should be declared null and void and that it was premature of the AU and SADC missions to declare it free and fair.

“I don’t know why they’re making declarations before counting. It’s so blatant that no one will believe the results if they lose, not the MDC and not Zanu-PF.” In an interview with the Mail & Guardian, Mandaza called the election “a coup legitimised by elections”.

“The voters roll was full of problems, even the MDC went to court over that,” Mandaza said. “[It] was never published or inspected. The elections were so rushed, it confirmed our fears that they were rigging it. If the election was delayed and everyone was given an opportunity to register and campaign properly, it could have been different.”

Political analyst Blessing Vava differed said the MDC had shot itself in the foot by being part of a process that legitimised the election.

“It’s quite bad for the MDC to start discrediting results that have not been announced. The MDC was part of the reconstruction of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), so it must accept the decisions made by its own appointments. The commission that we have now is a product of a joint exercise by all political parties.”

Vava said the MDC had failed because it had focused on personal gain, something he said that might contribute to the its defeat.

Forgotten constitution
“When they went into government, they somehow forgot the framework for the envisaged Constitution and allowed political parties to write the new Constitution instead of the people,” Vava said. “But when they wanted to have cars and go overseas, they made it happen. They’ve got no one to blame but themselves.”

Mugabe went into this week’s election determined to abolish the government of national unity he has been leading with two MDC parties.

“Naturally, it was harder,” he told journalists after casting his vote. “We had to go through a torturous route to get to the new Constitution. When you are with other parties in government, it is bound to be difficult. But we have managed together.”

Mandaza said a rushed election date, a failure to give voters enough time to register, fake registration slips that were discovered on election day and intimidation rendered the election a let-down.

The mission leader of the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC, advocate Notemba Tjipueja, said her mission was concerned at the double- numbering of ballot papers by the ZEC, the final voters’ roll not being made available timeously and that some voters were turned away from polling stations, even when they produced voter registration slips.

SADC’s observer mission said none of the stakeholders could provide details on the number of voters who were denied the right to vote.

No perfect voters’ roll
Tjipueja, who is also chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Namibia said: “No country has got a perfect voters’ roll” and Zimbabwe was no different.”

SADC recommended that the ZEC “clean up the voters” roll to ensure accuracy and adherence to legal provisions governing elections, improve warehouse facilities for the safe and secure storage of electoral material and enhance poll readiness and the timely dispatching of election material to polling stations”.

The ZEC played down reports that  some people — 20 in one Hatfield polling station — were found with fake registration slips. It said it had received a report about the incident, but, “are you talking about 20? Twenty out of how many? If there are more than 20, well, we see that as a lesson for the future.”

Mandaza said Zimbabwe was unlikely to experience democratic elections anytime soon. “These guys [Zanu-PF] have gone overboard. I know my country well and I can tell you that people are sceptical about this election. There could be serious repercussions, even violence.”

More than six million Zimbabweans were registered to vote to choose a president, members of the National Assembly and local councillors. If none of the presidential candidates wins 50% of the votes, a run-off will be held in September.


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