The chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson, Retired Justice Simpson Mtambanengwe, yesterday described as false and malicious recent reports carried by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) alleging he told an international gathering in Barcelona, Spain, that war veterans were terrorising villagers.
ZBC alleged this week that Justice Mtambanengwe told an International Institute of Democracy conference in Barcelona veterans of the country’s liberation war were terrorising villagers.ZBC alleged the ZEC chairperson presented a paper which was allegedly prepared by officials from the British Embassy in Harare, a charge the embassy officials also dismissed as untrue.
War veterans immediately called for the sacking of Justice Mtambanengwe from ZEC.
Yesterday, Justice Mtambanengwe dismissed the allegations, saying, he, together with his officials had never been asked to address the conference.
“For the record, I made no such statement or any statement to that effect or any statement at all,” the retired judge said. “Needless to say the airing of what I am alleged to have said was based on false and malicious information.
“I and my colleagues were invited and attended the conference as ordinary participants who were not asked to present any statement whatsoever and we did not make or present any statement. I have stated on a number of occasions the position of ZEC on issues like when elections are going to take place. I have stated that we do not involve ourselves in political matters. That question on when elections are going to be held is a political matter.”
Justice Mtambanengwe said contrary to ZBC claims, the Barcelona conference was not organised by the “International Institute of Democracy”, but by the Barcelona International Peace Centre. Acting British Ambassador Tim Cole said allegations raised by ZBC were meant to damage diplomatic relations between London and Harare.
“The absurd allegation that a member of the British Embassy prepared a speech for ZEC chairman Retired Justice Simpson Mtambanengwe is wholly unfounded,” said Cole.
“It demonstrates the desperate lengths to which some people will go to undermine the strong relationship between Britain and Zimbabwe.”