Zimbabwean opposition parties find themselves being frog-marched into an election that has been outrightly rigged to ensure that the incumbent, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and his acolytes are retained through a well scripted landslide victory.
By MKHULULI TSHUMA
The most amazing part of the script is the abuse of the courts through judgments that entrench lack of transparency within the electoral process.
High Court judge Justice Happias Zhou has ruled that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is right in not issuing a voters’ roll with photographs to political parties or any member of the public and the electoral body cannot be compelled to do otherwise.
Justice Zhou’s ruling follows a petition by one Ethel Tsitsi Mpezeni who sought an order barring Zec from releasing a voters’ roll bearing registered voters pictures. Her fears were said to be that the provision of photographs on the roll would enable criminals to clone national identity documents.
This application and subsequent judgment is designed deliberately to deny the opposition the much-needed evidence of the existence of more than three million ghost voters that are reportedly on the voters’ roll. In earlier presentations, I have stated that the voters’ roll presented to political parties and organisations is riddled with as many as three million ghosts. These findings followed a concerted study that I embarked on just after the release of the 2012 census results.
One of the issues that I looked at was the issue of statistics. You can only ignore statistics at your own peril. For example, in the elections held in 2000, there was no presidential race, but popular vote was divided as follows:
Zanu PF 1,2 million
MDC 1,2 million
However, from 2002 to 2008, the following figures obtained:
Zanu PF 1,6 million
MDC 1,2 million
Zanu PF 1,1 million
MDC 1,2 million
MDC’s statistics have always been around the 1,2 million range, whereas Zanu PF’s range has been fluctuating. It should be noted that in all elections held before 2008, which are 2000, 2002 and 2005, Zanu PF used overt violence to maintain their hold onto power. The first round of the 2008 harmonised polls were the most democratic that this country has ever had since independence and produced the above results.
It was in these elections that for the first time, the opposition used the State media. Violence was abandoned almost completely. Zanu PF lost that election and suddenly, all the reforms that we saw prior to the first round of that election were promptly withdrawn. Violence returned, claiming the lives of over 200 MDC supporters. MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai had to pull out before the scheduled run-off, which Zanu PF went on to conduct. The result of that one-man run-off are as follows:
Zanu PF 2,2 million
MDC 0,2 million
Zanu PF’s figure increased 100% in two months with a whopping 1,2 million votes, according to these official figures.
The inclusive government was formed after that widely condemned poll and it had a mandate to level the playing field before the next election scheduled in 2013.
With the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) joining the international community in frowning at election violence as a means of retaining political power, Zanu PF adopted outright rigging. From that moment, all elections will be peaceful, but rigged.
As a result, Zanu PF devised a means of getting an extra one million votes. About 10 000 youths from the National Youth Service were recruited for this operation and all they had to do was to be enabled to vote 100 times each through a well-choreographed scheme.
With the country using the ward-based voters’ roll, where all polling stations in a ward will have the name of every registered voter in the ward, the youth would be enabled to use one ID to vote in all the polling stations in that ward and will be helped to wash away the ink from their fingers so that they appear as though they have not yet voted during the course of the voting day.
So, if a ward has 20 polling stations, a person would move from one polling station to the other, voting using the same ID. If they finish the 20 polling stations in that ward, they get another ID with their face, but a different name and ID number and move to the next ward, where the new ID is registered and also finish all the polling stations there and move over to the next ward and likewise do the same until they have voted 100 times each.
These IDs were made for them by the Tobaiwa Mudede-led Registar’s Office. That is why he is still kept at that office even though he should have been retired a long time ago. The following are the results of that election.
Zanu PF 2,1 million
MDC 1,2 million
After the results were released, Tsvangirai launched a court challenge to overturn the results of that election. He also approached the courts to try and get access to the materials used during the 2013 elections, including the voters’ rolls. Current Judge President Justice George Chiweshe threw out his application. He had to withdraw his challenge to Mugabe’s victory. To this date, no one has ever accessed those materials, not even spin doctor Jonathan Moyo. His application to gain access to those materials in his quest to challenge his loss in Tsholotsho was also thrown out. Allowing it would have set a wrong precedent and opened floodgates for more such applications leading to the discovery of the rigging plot
The courts were thus used to ensure that the secret of some people voting over 100 times, remained hidden. A casual look at the voters’ rolls used during that election would have shown that certain individuals voted in all the polling stations within their wards and further investigations would have unearthed the one million extra votes.
In the last six months, Zec cancelled the old voters’ roll and embarked on an exercise to produce the biometric roll.
At the end of the exercise, Zec claimed to have registered a whopping 5,7 million people. These are all expected to vote since registration happened in the last few months.
If the above statistics are to be used, the opposition vote will still hover around the 1,2 million to 1,5 million while Zanu PF will balloon to around four million votes. This is because Zanu PF has gone for broke and manufactured three million votes to totally annihilate opposition politics in Zimbabwe.
Now six days before another elections, another High Court judge has been used to hide this loot, the three million ghosts. Next week’s elections are set to be rigged through the same modus operandi. This time it would be 30 000 youth voting 100 times or so. The aim is to produce another landslide victory for Zanu PF.
Voting this time will be polling station based which means that unlike in 2013 where one ID could vote in 20 polling stations, this time an ID can only vote in one polling station.
As a result, the Registry department has had to pull all stops to ensure that it prints three million extra IDs. They have had to import some ID numbers from the past and give them recent dates of birth.
Over and above that, they have created hundreds of thousands other fake IDs, a development picked up by Team Pachedu’s findings on their audit of the released voters’ roll. It is not criminals cloning IDs Ms Tsitsi. It is the current Zanu PF government’s way of doing business.
This kind of rigging is difficult to detect except through an audit of the biometric voters’ roll. Polling agents cannot do anything. Any day from now, the riot act will be read on them.
They will be told to stick to their duties of counting people entering the polling stations and if the try to do anything else like checking for traces of ink on people’s fingers, they will be immediately arrested.
This is to ensure that they unsuspectingly co-operate with the rigging in that at the vote counting stage, the numbers will tally. Unknown to them, they would also have counted people that have been counted at other polling stations where they already would have voted before.
As a result, the results that will be announced will tally with those posted outside all polling stations. Zanu PF would have “won”.
The only shortcoming was on producing three million faces and fingerprints which is an act that can only be done by God.
As a result, though the names and ID numbers used are different, the faces on most of those IDs are duplicated.
Faces and fingerprints of 30 000 people who will vote next week are duplicated 100 times or so each. All the evidence is on that biometric voters’ roll.
This is where Justice Zhou’s judgment comes in. No one should access that biometric roll before and after the elections. Anyone, including observers, who may try to push for its availing for transparency’s sake will be accused of being ultra vires the laws of the land.
This is the Catch-22 that the opposition finds itself in. Going forward with the election is pointless as Zanu PF has carefully planned this to ensure that it retains all councils, over two-thirds majority in Parliament as well as the coveted presidency.
At the same time, pulling out makes them appear as though they are heavily confused and fearful of the “mighty” Zanu PF, which will still go on with the elections, with some candidates that it has fielded under the guise of independents as well as some shadowy parties.
I guess we were all wrong in thinking that last November’s coup will lead to a fully-fledged democracy within months. The international community is happy with the peace currently prevailing in the country and the fact that opposition parties are able to campaign anywhere, but all of them are silent when it comes to matters to do with transparency and fairness of the election. They have remained quiet as the peace loving people of Zimbabwe are being frog-marched into an election with a pre-determined outcome.
The only option for the opposition is to demonstrate against this injustice, but already Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu have already issued ominous threats against them for threatening to demonstrate “peacefully”.
Whatever happens, one thing is very certain, this is another coup disguised as an election. The lights of democracy are going out all over the nation of Zimbabwe. We may not see them again in a lifetime.
Mkhululi Tshuma is a Bulawayo-based political researcher. He writes in his personal capacity