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MDC-T polls chief arrested

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THE MDC-T yesterday said the arrest of the party’s deputy national chairperson, Morgan Komichi — just three days before the harmonised elections — was part of a bigger plot to rig the polls slated for Wednesday.

REPORT BY JOHN NYASHANU/FELUNA NLEYA

Komichi, who is in charge of the party’s liaison with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), was arrested two days after he had presented Zec with an envelope containing special ballot papers allegedly found dumped in a rubbish bin at a Harare hotel under suspicious circumstances.

The MDC-T official claimed he had been given the envelope by an unnamed party sympathiser who had picked it up. The police now want Komichi to disclose the identity of that sympathiser threatening to make him the prime suspect if he did not do that.

Addressing a Press conference yesterday, MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa said: “What is surprising us is that they are not questioning the authenticity of the ballot papers, but see it befitting to persecute a whistleblower. This is an obvious ploy to rig this election, which unfortunately they will not succeed.

“The development we have witnessedseriously demonstrates a dent on the credibility of this election. It demonstrates a perforation of the integrity of Zec. There is no denial of the fact that indeed it’s an authentic ballot paper and indeed that the ballot paper was found in the dustbin. But, of course, they want to know the whistleblower. We believe that Zec — and not Komichi — have a lot of questions to answer. If there is any investigation, the theatre of investigations is supposed to be at Zec,” he said.

“For us, these developments witnessed demonstrate the integrity of Zanu PF. Zanu PF wants to undermine the will of the people. Zanu PF knows that it is going to lose this election and that is why they are attempting to rig it.”

Chamisa said his party had raised several complaints over the conduct of the polls — including intimidation of its supporters, non-availability of the final voters, roll and other election-related information — but Zec had not treated the issues as urgent.

“Our president (Morgan Tsvangirai) is yet to be furnished with the voters’ roll. What is confusing is that we have some four or five voters’ rolls and we do not know which one is set to be used. We do not know where the ballot papers are being printed and who the presiding officers will be,” he said.

Later in the day, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told journalists that Komichi, who claimed to have received the parcel from an anonymous MDC-T sympathiser, was likely to be charged with breaching Section 85(1)(e) Chapter 2:13 of the Electoral Act.

“He (Komichi) is assisting police with investigations so that he reveals the identity of the person who gave him the ballot paper with a view of getting to the bottom of this matter,” said Charamba.

Komichi is alleged to have received the “lost” envelope from his unidentified source last Tuesday before he submitted it to Zec chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi on Thursday.

“Komichi is alleging that the envelope had been handed over to him by a person whom he cannot disclose. As long as he refuses to disclose the identity of this person, the police will hold him accountable, therefore, he becomes the prime suspect,” said Charamba.

“Our preliminary investigations have since established that the said police officer whose special ballot paper was allegedly found in the dustbin never cast his vote. He was scientifically tested by Zec officials to this effect and a sworn affidavit statement has since been obtained from the police officer and the Zec official who conducted the ultraviolet light test.

“To this end, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, as the law enforcement agent in the country, has a constitutional mandate to investigate this case. The police would like to establish how the so-called special ballot paper ended up in a dustbin and the whereabouts of the rest of the alleged ‘lost envelopes’.

“This is a very urgent and serious matter that will have a bearing on the election process and, therefore, cannot be left for any other time except now.”

By late afternoon yesterday, Komichi’s lawyer Tarisai Mutangi said his client was still in police custody.

“He has not yet been charged, they are still making enquiries,” said Mutangi.

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