GWERU — MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said his party had unearthed a new plot where Zanu PF and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) planned to rig the July 31 polls by printing two million extra ballot papers.
Addressing a campaign rally at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru — where attendance was more than double the capacity of the 10 000-seater
venue — Tsvangirai accused his arch-rival Zanu PF leader President Robert Mugabe of always devising subtle schemes to rig polls and portraying himself as a victim of imperialistic attacks each time his shenanigans have been exposed.
“Violence tainted the legitimacy of Mugabe’s Presidency in 2000 and 2008 in the eyes of the international community and he knows this. So now he wants a peaceful, but rigged election,” Tsvangirai said.
He said the rigging could only happen with the connivance of Zec.
“This will only happen if Zec allows it. But, we want to say we will protect the vote, the voter and the vote outcome from those who want to rig,” Tsvangirai said.
The MDC-T leader questioned why Zec had printed eight million ballot papers when Zimbabwe had an estimated six million registered voters.
“Our hearts are bleeding over the things that Zec is doing. They failed to print adequate ballots for the police and soldiers. They denied eligible Zimbabweans in the urban areas a right to vote by stalling the registration process and now they have printed eight million ballot papers when we have six million registered voters,” he queried.
Contacted for comment, MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said: “While we don’t doubt the possibility of Zanu PF doing this to try and steal this election, we, however, for now have not yet received figures of printed ballot papers from our officials on the ground. At this juncture, I can’t confirm or deny this allegation. However, let me hasten to say the possibility of Zanu PF abusing State institutions to rig this election is very high.”
However, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo rubbished the claims and accused Tsvangirai of seeing shadows where they do not exist.
“It is all nonsense. Though I really do not know the number of ballot papers Zec has printed, but if they printed more, what is wrong with that? What happens if we have damages? Isn’t it better to have more than to encounter shortages? This is not the kind of talk expected from a whole Prime Minister,” Gumbo said.
Tsvangirai challenged Mugabe to a live televised presidential debate, saying that would provide the electorate with an opportunity to judge for themselves who has a manifesto that will take the country forward.
“I challenge Mugabe and other presidential candidates to a live TV debate so that the people of Zimbabwe can judge for themselves and see who has the will and capacity to take them to a better future,” he said.
Tsvangirai blasted Mugabe for threatening to pull out of Sadc and the African Union (AU) and described the move “as a fool’s errand”.
“Mugabe lost the 2008 election, but was saved by Sadc on his Presidency. Mugabe is a beneficiary of Sadc benevolence, but he still has the audacity to condemn Sadc. He wants to leave Sadc and the AU, but we say we will not leave these institutions. They are our homes. It’s a fool’s errand to try and pull out because you have argued with others,” he said.
Mugabe has threatened to pull out of Sadc and gone as far as insulting Sadc facilitators to the inclusive government, in particular President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu.
Tsvangirai was accompanied by his wife Elizabeth Macheka, who moved around the stadium picking up babies into her arms, much to the delight of the capacity crowd.
Turning to the emotive Gukurahundi massacres where about 20 000 civilians in the Midlands and Matabeleland region were killed by the army under the guise of cleansing the area of armed dissident elements in the 1980s, Tsvangirai said his government would compensate the victims and their immediate family members.
“There are those of you who are waiting to have vengeance; who are saying once we take over government you just want three days so that you can have revenge against those who killed your families during the Gukurahundi era. I want to tell you that you may not take the law into your own hands.
“If you want this country to move forward, we need peace and stability and this is what we will maintain. But, victims of Gukurahundi will not be forgotten, they will be compensated by the State because the State has a responsibility to protect and compensate victims of State-sponsored violence,” he said.
Tsvangirai said his party would take stock of what happened during Gukurahundi, Operation Murambatsvina in 2005 and the bloody 2008 elections through a peace and reconciliation commission.
His sentiments were echoed by Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn president Simba Makoni, who also attended the rally at Mkoba. Makoni said Mugabe had to answer to all the heinous acts which he allegedly committed over his three-decade-long rule.
“We are here to liberate Zimbabwe for the second time from rule by fear which has become a trademark in our politics. We should liberate the old man from the fear of his own generals . . . but first he has to be made to explain his evil deeds over the past decade,” Makoni said.