ZIMBABWE once again finds herself being railroaded into an election, despite tangible proof that conditions on the ground are not yet conducive for a free and fair poll. All this flies against postulations by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration that it is a new dispensation which unlike Robert Mugabe’s administration, values the “voice of the people” which it equates to the “voice of God”.
For starters, Mugabe had a reputation of ambushing the nation with an election. This was shown by his sudden proclamation of the 2008 election dates on February 25 2008, as well as in 2013 after a court application by a certain Jealousy Mawarire, who dubiously petitioned the courts to “force-march” the nation into an election. This was despite the fact that Zimbabwe was experiencing the best-ever economic boom since the turn of the millennium under the inclusive government. No one at that time wanted an election except Zanu PF. It is still argued in many political circles that Mawarire’s application was Mugabe’s bidding to push through an election which he had organised to thoroughly rig.
Fast forward to 2018, the nation finds itself again being forced into another election which again has a strong rigging tag attached to it. Compounding the situation further is the electoral authorities’ refusal or neglect of accountability. The body mandated with running national elections in the country, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), has been making serious gaffes that are totally uncalled for.
It has been taken to court a number of times by people trying to force it to live up to its constitutional duties, but alas, the body has opposed these applications, which simply means it does not want to be accountable.
The same body cancelled the old voters’ roll and embarked on the formulation of a new one, which captured biometric data like people’s faces in coming up with the new roll. The body claimed that at the close of registration, it had registered 5,5 million people in a country which has just over 11 million people according to the last census in 2012.
Yes 5,5 million. Which means more than a half of the Zimbabwean population are adults and are also registered to vote. It gets even worse when you consider that it is not all people who are over 18 years old who registered to vote. What Zec seems to suggest is that over 80% of Zimbabweans are adults?
Moreover, the voters’ roll recently handed over to political parties does not contain biometric data. Political parties were given a list of names and addresses some which are alleged to be non-existent and others allegedly registering up to 400 people in one address.
When further probed by political parties on why the voters’ roll did not have faces of registrants, Zec made laughable claims that people’s faces were private material that they could not give to political parties. Since when has a person’s face become private? Unless of course Zec has manufactured ghost voters. These definitely will not have faces, as there is no ghost that has a public face. As such these can never be publicly revealed.
A closer analysis of past voting patterns shows that around 2,5 to 2,6 million people have been voting in Zimbabwe from 2000 to 2008. At this stage it is important to note that these were the politically active of the time, who even if you had to cancel the electoral roll and begin reregistering, they are the ones who will bother to re-register.
In all-these elections, Zanu PF used violence to maintain their stranglehold on power. With violence being condemned both regionally and internationally, the party put a moratorium on this method and adopted “non-violent but outright rigging”, as a means of retaining political power. This ominously coincided with a sudden upsurge in the number of voters in all elections conducted after 2008.
Yes, 2008 as everyone knows how the party tried free and fair elections for the first time since independence in the first round of that poll and how it lost. All hopes of a free and fair election were lost in that election as the party became aware that people no longer wanted it. From thereon, all elections would be non-violent, but rigged so as to get some legitimacy.
That is why for example, in the 2012 referendum, over 3,5 million people voted. This was a precursor to the over 3,6 million or so people who were to vote in the 2013 elections. Could this be the smoking gun?
It is argued in certain quarters that the 2013 elections were ostensibly rigged by over one million ghost votes that were virtually given to Mugabe the Zanu PF candidate and certain parliamentary and council candidates in Masvingo, Mashonaland, Midlands and parts of Matabeleland provinces including Harare Metropolitan, with the help of Israeli-based firm Nikuv International Projects.
The real votes were again 2,6 million or so plus the 1 million from rigging. You just need to study, compare and contrast the voting figures in these areas between 2000-2008 and post 2012 to see how there was an unexplained sudden surge in ruling Zanu PF votes figures, whereas the opposition votes remained round about the same numbers where they have always been.
This explains why when the 2013 election results started coming out, even the winners were shocked. This was because the rigging had been done without the knowledge of some candidates in most places. The rigging circle had to be kept small for obvious reasons. The chief beneficiary was to be Mugabe, but since the elections are harmonised, all Zanu PF parliamentary and council candidates benefited in the areas where the rigging was implemented.
Now, Zec has produced a voters’ roll where 5,5 million adults have expressed a willingness to cast their votes. These are politically active in the last four or so months which was the period of registering which means they are definitely going to vote.
At this stage, a curious mind can’t help but automatically suspect the worst. Unless proven otherwise by an independent audit of the voter’s roll produced by Zec, it is advisable for all political players to expect over three million ghost voters that have been manufactured for this election with the connivance of certain shadowy characters within the Zec secretariat.
This may mean we are heading towards an electoral theft of gigantic proportions. This perhaps is the reason why we had a recent dubious survey that predicted ED will get 73% of the vote. This means that even before the 5,5 million people vote on July 30, ED already has been guaranteed three million of that vote which is 54,5% and only needs 18,5% from the real votes to get to (David Nyekorach) Matsanga’s prediction of 73%.
This is also why we have 23 people contesting the presidency. Most of them are part and parcel of the rigging machinery that plays a pivotal role post-election. When the results are being released, these will quickly go on record conceding defeat and congratulating the victors and urging those who are querying the results to follow suit and help work with the victors to develop the country.
This plays a role of lulling people’s emotions. Most will then be rewarded handsomely then disappear, only to re-emerge as the nation lurches towards elections in 2023 to replay the same role. If it is not them, it will be others recruited for the same script.
A lot of things do not make sense from the numbers being thrown around by Zec. Zimbabwe has a high death rate, which has seen most cities running out of burial space very fast. Moreover, thousands continue to leave the country for the diaspora to look for opportunities in neighbouring countries and some to Europe.
You would have expected the voting statistics to at least remain at the same level or slightly rising considering that there are others who have attained 18 years in the last decade, but surprisingly these have gone up with over 150% according to Zec. Where is Zec getting all these people from? Could this be the reason why Zec has failed to avail a biometric roll?
While it can be easy to create three million IDs through (Registrar-General) Tobaiwa Mudede, it is not easy to come up with three million faces as well as different fingerprints. This also explains why you have 400 people alleged to be registered under one address on the voters roll. This is because after creating three million voters, these have to be accommodated at least on paper within the communities. Because the figure is a whopping three million, it cannot be easily hidden without some of the gaffes on addresses that we have seen. A critical analysis of rural addresses will even reveal shocking details.
Subject the biometric voters’ roll to a facial identification software test and see if it will pass that test. Such an audit will unearth all the flaws on Zec’s voters register.
If left unchecked, these three million ghost voters will vote on July 30. The most likely thing is that these three million people can be reduced to a manageable figure, say about 10 000 nationally and almost insignificant figures at local level, but these just need to vote 300 times each.
This means that cross referencing with the voters roll, it is possible that 10 000 people in different spatial zones throughout the country are captured on the biometric roll 300 times in different names and addresses, but the same biometric details like face and finger prints.
This is where the military secretariat within Zec is operationalised. If this operation is successful, the Zanu PF candidate is already victorious even before we vote as with 3 million votes, the remaining 2,5 million actual voters are just a minority. This makes the whole 5,5 million figure Zec is talking about and makes the elections the biggest farce of all times.
The question now is, how can this be stopped? Political parties must use the next twenty or so days to ratchet up pressure on Zec and demand that the body be professional. They should demand the biometric roll and seriously scrutinise it using all resources they may have.
They must now make full use of the many foreign observers who are in the country courtesy of invitation by the “new administration” to present their case and force the new administration to allow the people to decide who should lead them for the next five years without interference.
There must be a serious audit of the biometric roll before elections. Not just the list of names provided by Zec, but the biometric data itself. This is where everyone who has a heart for Zimbabwe must speak with one voice.
Participating in an election like this in its current status will be an exercise in futility for anyone.
Moreover, even the ink used on the voting day must be audited to ensure that it is not some diluted ink that can be easily washed away using any chemical like thinners. This is because the washing away of the ink is a critical component to those who implement the rigging. The hand of the voters must be thoroughly scanned to ensure that there is no sign of ink on their fingers.
It must be noted that these are people who will be implementing a political party operation and as such they will be pressed for time. As such, they will need polling stations to be close to each other. As such political parties should ask Zec to timeously reveal the polling stations and deploy polling agents in all stations without fail.
These agents, should be jerked up individuals who will count all voters and also be watching out for suspicious individuals. Parties must be wary of those polling stations that have close proximity to each other especially in rural areas. These are placed close to each other to aid the rigging by ensuring that as many polling stations are covered by the rigging team in minimal time. Remember, to play safe, one has to vote in 300 polling stations to avoid raising eye brows.
Parties and observers must also watch the movement of both vehicular and human traffic in days leading to the polls and during polling. Chances are high that there will be deployment of these individual for the operation during that period. Parties must not accept new polling stations designated by ZEC days before the polls.
Some of these are virtual polling stations whose sole purpose would be to stuff the ballot. Above all, chiefs and village heads must be closely watched to ensure that they do not marshal their subjects to polling stations. We cannot afford a situation where whole villages will plead illiteracy ,so that they be assisted to vote by political party goons as happened in 2013.
Moreover, the whole buck stops with the President himself. It is possible that to avoid searing his conscience, this can be happening without his knowledge and blessings, even if he is bound to be the biggest beneficiary. He can deactivate the operation and tell whoever is running it to stop it. The people of Zimbabwe must be allowed to have their voice heard. After all, the voice of the people is the voice of God.
We don’t choose when to listen and when not to listen to the voice of our creator. Let the voice of God unveil our next leaders and let us all work together with them to build our country and usher in an unforgettable five years of great economic, political and social revival. God bless you and God bless the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Mkhululi Tshuma is a Bulawayo based political researcher. The views expressed above are based on six years of study of electoral theft in Zimbabwe. He is contactable on firstname.lastname@example.org