MDC-T MPs yesterday said Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede is too old to continue serving in the Public Service saying at 67, he should have long gone into retirement.
VENERANDA LANGA/EVERSON MUSHAVA
The legislators also accused Mudede of manipulating the voter registration exercise for the benefit of Zanu PF.
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya claimed Mudede had allocated many registration centres to Zanu PF strongholds to enable that party’s supporters to easily register as voters while known MDC-T strongholds had too few centres, resulting in long queues that frustrated potential voters.
Chikwinya made the remarks as legislators were debating the chaos that has blighted the mobile voter registration exercise, which started on April 29 and ends on Sunday.
Parliamentarians passed the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill with amendments after 148 MPs voted affirmatively for its Third Reading Stage.
“It is my pure belief that since 2000, the person of Mudede has always been at the centre of controversy when it comes to voter registration with court records citing Mudede as a person who has been inhibiting the free flow and achievement of free elections in this country,” said Chikwinya.
“I am actually not surprised to see the hand of Mudede actually frustrating registration of voters, and he is 67 years old and by law should have retired, given a package and fresh interviews held to put a person who is prudent enough to occupy the post.”
Chikwinya said Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Rita Makarau had tried her best to bring normalcy into the exercise but her efforts were being frustrated by Mudede.
“We are aware that $4 million was released for this exercise, with $500 000 directed to Zec and $300 000 to the RG’s Office, but Mudede has deployed inadequate staff to cover the multitudes of people wanting to register to vote,” he said.
“In Zanu PF strongholds like Mashonaland East, they were allocated 100 registration centres with 22 constituencies, whilst Harare has 18 registration centres with 29 constituencies. Few registration centres have been allocated in Harare so that people perceived to vote for MDC are disenfranchised while favouring Zanu PF strongholds.”
Masvingo Central MP Jeffryson Chitando said President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Zec and Mudede should be sued for deliberately letting chaos reign supreme during voter registration.
“I am calling upon all lawyers to sue the President, PM, Zec and Mudede for deliberately violating our political rights and the Constitution,” said Chitando.
However, Mwenezi East MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Zanu PF) said voter registration was not a party issue and there was still time after the passage of the Constitution for people to be accorded a chance to register to vote.
He alleged Finance minister Tendai Biti was the one stalling the process by allocating inadequate funds for the exercise.
“A sum of $8 million was allocated for voter registration by acting Finance minister Elton Mangoma, but when Biti came back he reversed it to $4 million to achieve the purpose of pushing the election dates further. To think that if many Zimbabweans were to register to vote, the MDC-T will win is a fantasy and Biti should release more money to Mudede,” Bhasikiti said.
Meanwhile, Justice Makarau yesterday said a new mandatory 30-day voter registration window would soon be introduced after the adoption of the new constitution.
Addressing church leaders in Harare, Justice Makarau said an affidavit would be used to overcome the challenges faced with the demand for proof of residence from prospective voters.
“We understand the challenges faced by the prospective voters regarding the issue of proof of residence. We have introduced an affidavit and empowered the registering officers to act as commissioners of oath so that people can register,” she said.
“However, we understand the affidavit was not being used because the registering officers said they had not been directed to do so or because they did not have the affidavit forms. We are hoping that this affidavit is gazetted into law so it can become a directive to the officers.”