At a recent rally held in Bulawayo Nelson Chamisa, the MDC Alliance presidential candidate, announced that on July 24, exactly six days before the 2018 harmonised elections, they will meet with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to discuss some sticking issues regarding the forthcoming elections, which include the authenticity of the ballot paper and the independent audit of the biometric voters’ roll.
By MKHULULI TSHUMA
I am not a prophet, but I will pre-empt the outcome of that meeting and clearly give the reasons why. Zec will concede to some of Chamisa’s demands, except one: the release and audit of the biometric voters’ roll.
They will resist this issue, giving all reasons that range from the biometric features on the roll being private property which was given to Zec in confidence, to the recent outcry over the phone numbers issue where Zec was blamed and sued by some individuals for releasing their cellphone numbers to Zanu PF.
Whatever guarantees the MDC Alliance will try to give, assuring them that the material will not be abused, will not be considered.
The real reason why Zec will not release the biometric voters’ roll is simply that within hours of such release, there will be enough evidence from the contents of the biometric voters’ roll to stop the elections from being held.
Even our clearly partisan courts will not be able to allow the elections to proceed after being presented with the evidence of such an audit.
Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and all her commissioners will be forced to resign and President Emmerson Mnangagwa will issue a statement dissociating himself and his government from Zec’s shenanigans.
They will profess ignorance on the matter and blame the whole scandal on an “independent” (Zec). Only God knows what will happen concerning the elections thereafter.
The voters’ roll has been seriously and deliberately manipulated to ensure that Mnangagwa, wins the elections by a landslide victory as well as get a two-thirds majority in Parliament and runs all councils post-election, through a well-orchestrated scheme that even fools unsuspecting election observers deployed for this election from various regions and continents.
A recent report by a group of experts called Team Pachedu has raised a red flag over many issues in the voters’ roll released to political parties.
These inconsistencies include some ID numbers that are suspicious as well as people who stay in one address being registered to vote in different constituencies. I will explain how this fits into the rigging plot that is being rolled out under our glare.
For a clear understanding of how next week’s elections will be rigged, let me first explain how elections were stolen in 2013, as this has a bearing on findings by Team Pachedu.
For starters, Zec refused to release the voters’ roll in 2013 until on the eve of the election when the MDC-T party took them to court.
It was only then that the voters’ roll was released to the opposition. In that election, Zec used ward-based voters’ rolls. For example, if a ward had 10 polling stations, a voters’ name would appear in all the 10 polling stations.
If a voter presents themselves to vote in one polling station, their name would be struck off using a pen and ruler from that polling station’s voters’ roll, which together with the indelible ink that would be put on their small finger, will be the only indicator that they have voted.
However, after voting in that polling station, there remained nine other polling stations, which bore the name of that voter still uncancelled.
This was the loophole which was exploited. Zanu PF just gave the whole nation a very weak indelible ink which the implementers of the rigging plot easily washed away and managed to vote in all the polling stations within a ward where their name appeared.
After election results were released, then MDC-T leader Morgan 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.
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.
The courts were, thus, used to ensure that the secret of some people voting over 20 times remained hidden. Ten people voting 20 times in a constituency inflates their vote to 200 votes, instead of 20.
This modus operandi applied at selected constituencies nationally managed to give the Zanu PF presidential candidate an extra one million votes as well as guaranteed a two-thirds majority in parliament for the party.
This is why when results started coming in, the whole nation went into shock. No one wanted to believe the results that were coming in. Even polling agents who were counting the number of people who voted, were duped into counting people who had been counted in other polling stations. Only they did not know it. As a result, the number of votes tallied with the number of people who entered the polling stations nationally. This is how the nation was “Nikuved”.
Fast-forward to 2018, a week before elections, the biometric voters’ roll has not been released. Zec again has many stories as to why they will not release the roll.
The recent outcry over messages sent by some Zanu PF candidates to people’s cellphones is coming in handy. Zec will refuse to release the biometric voters’ roll ostensibly to protect the people yet all they are protecting is the grand theft that we are slowly but surely heading towards.
The 2018 voters’ roll is polling station based unlike the 2013 ward based one. This means that a voter’s name will only appear in one polling station nationally. Unlike 2013 where one ID could have been used to vote in as many as 15 polling stations in a ward, now it means for a person to vote 15 times in the same ward, they now need to have 15 different IDs with 15 different names and identity numbers but because no one can create biometric features like face and finger prints except God, then what it means is they have used the same biometric details.
This is the material that Zec is refusing with. They are doing all things possible to try and cover up this theft. Not even any application to the courts to try and access that biometric roll will be granted. The courts will again be told what verdict to pass on such an application. That is why Mnangagwa recently told Chamisa that if he is not happy with Zec, he should approach the courts. That is a dead end for the opposition. The courts in their current status as rightfully pointed out by Chamisa in Bulawayo, are an extension of a political party. They only rule against the status quo in peripheral matters like abuse of school children and school properties and nothing more. Even in those matters, they will not enforce those judgments.
This mass production and creation of ID numbers explains the discrepancy noted by Team Pachedu where some ID numbers cannot be verified. A closer analysis of the biometric voters’ roll will show that most faces and fingerprints used are duplicated to produce an extra 3Million votes unlike the 1Million extra that was produced for the 2013 polls. This is designed to ensure that Zanu PF claims a major landslide victory that will completely destroy opposition politics in Zimbabwe forever. That also explains the mood in Zanu PF which has already started celebrating.
Team Pachedu also noted many instances where people use the same address but are registered to vote at different polling stations and some even going further to be registered to vote in other constituencies. A close analysis will show duplication in most of these instances, it is one person registered in these different polling stations only that they are captured in different names and identity numbers but the only thing that betrays them is the biometric details of the face and fingerprints. They are expected to vote in all polling stations in these constituencies by simply getting rid of the indelible ink in-between the voting intervals
My last presentation stated that to create 3Million ghost votes, 10 000 people will need to vote 300 times each nationally. This was not a conclusive estimation, it could be 30 000 people voting 100 times each or 100 000 people voting 30 times each. Any arguments on the technicality of the time spent on a polling station misses the point which is simply that the forthcoming elections without an independent audit of the biometric voters’ roll will result in 3Million ghosts voting, giving the current establishment another stolen 5 year mandate.
Despite recent surveys showing that the elections will not produce an outright winner in the presidential race, one weekly paper reported that talks between Chamisa and Mnangagwa have collapsed with Mnangagwa quoted as saying that he will meet Chamisa at the polls. He knows that with these 3Million ghost votes, he already has over 54% of the vote before the first vote is cast on 30 July. What it means is that many political parties and candidates are wasting their time and resources campaigning. Zanu PF will determine through this modus operandi, who will make it to parliament and council and ultimately the presidency.
This explains why there is little violence and intimidation going on right now. Even observers from countries previously banished from observing Zimbabwean polls have been allowed to come. Most of these visitors as shown by comments from the recent visit by the elders who were led by former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, are impressed with the general peace currently prevailing and the fact that political parties are now allowed to campaign in areas previously considered no go areas to the opposition. What it simply means is that they will be willing to endorse the outcome of these polls as a true reflection of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.
This fits well into the whole narrative that the current government wants. If for example, the observers demand that the biometric voters’ roll be audited before polls as a means to enhance transparency, the same government will immediately revert back to its former hardline stance and will immediately claim that the observers are now interfering with the internal processes. They will present themselves as victims of neo-colonial rule and accuse the foreign governments of being ungrateful. This is because the elections are not about the will of Zimbabweans but are just a means to sanitize last November’s coup.
I therefore appeal to SADC, Zimbabwean churches, all political parties, civil society and fellow Zimbabweans to use these last few days to support all demands for an audit of the biometric voters’ roll to ensure that the true will of the people of Zimbabwe prevails on the 30th of July. If truly Zec has nothing to hide as it will want all of us to believe, the commission will be very happy to prove all allegations raised in this article wrong. After all, the constitution of Zimbabwe empowers them with powers both given and implied to ensure that elections are credible, transparent, free and fair.
Mkhululi Tshuma is a Bulawayo-based political researcher. He writes in his personal capacity