BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa on Sunday declared war on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) until it addresses allegations of manipulating the voters roll and alleged mismanagement of elections.
Chamisa addressed thousands of his party supporters at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare, who defied police restrictions and marched to the venue after the law enforcement agents barred them from using buses.
Police mounted several roadblocks leading to Highfield with some car queues stretching for more than 5km, especially on roads from Chitungwiza.
Police were not allowing vehicles with more than three passengers to pass through the checkpoints.
This forced CCC supporters to walk long distances to the rally. Some of the supporters claimed that they walked from Ruwa, Glen View and other suburbs in Harare.
In his address, Chamisa said CCC had tasked some “experts” to analyse the voters roll, which exposed anomalies.
He said some of the anomalies included creation of additional polling stations and moving people from polling stations without their consent.
Chamisa said the party would engage in protests until the electoral body adhered to its mandate as stipulated in the Constitution.
“We commissioned experts to analyse the voters roll. I had been tipped off by some senior government officials that the document was being tampered with. We have infiltrators in government departments — we have infiltrated all government departments,” Chamisa said.
“We will not let Zec get away with its manipulation. Starting with this by-election, if Zec does not address these anomalies, it will not be well. There will be instability in the country. On the issue of voter manipulation, do not panic. We have strategies.
“The first strategy is to ensure that Zec policies are compatible with the Constitution. If they don’t heed our demands, then we will take legal remedies. But we know that the courts may not be able to deliver justice fairly. We have our own solution. We will go to the streets. We will protest against Zec.”
Last Thursday, Zec disowned the voters roll that is being analysed by civic society organisations and suspended some of its employees for allegedly leaking a copy of the national voters roll and sharing the “tampered” document with an unnamed stakeholder.
Chamisa also encouraged teachers to continue fighting for their rights, demanding better salaries. He promised that his “government-in-waiting” would improve their conditions of service when it assumes power.
Teachers have been on strike since schools reopened two weeks ago, demanding better salaries.
In response, the government said it would fire teachers who would not have reported for work by tomorrow and replace them with college graduates.
“Teachers are wallowing in poverty. Civil servants have become poor. Teachers have made their demands clear. They want their Mugabe (the late former President Robert) era dignity to be restored. What is happening now? Teachers are being victimised, they are being abused, and they are being fired and accused of being aligned to Chamisa,” the CCC leader said.
“I am not the poverty. They want better salaries. Teachers — don’t be intimidated. Fight for your rights, for the meantime, but when we are in power, we will restore the dignity you had during Mugabe’s era. A teacher is the foundation of the development of the country. A teacher is the guardian of the destiny of any nation. A teacher is the compass of civilisation. All civil servants, the army, police and the central intelligence know that if this government has failed you, then you have to replace it with a capable government.”
The youthful leader told his supporters that CCC was a new political outfit, which had not yet elected its executive as consultations with the “people” were underway.
Speaking at the same event, former Zanu PF youth leader Godfrey Tsenengamu said he was rallying behind Chamisa’s promise to turn around the economy.
Tsenenagmu, now leader of the Front for Economic Emancipation in Zimbabwe, said: “I was there (in Zanu PF). I rose through the ranks up to the central committee. I am one person who supported the removal of Mugabe, hoping that he (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) would turn things around. Some people thought that he (Mnangagwa) meant change and we supported him, but we realised that there is no change. We thought looting (which took place) under Mugabe would end, but it has become worse. I am here because I support gatherings where issues of development are being discussed. We may have different ideologies, but something for sure is that you (Chamisa) are a force to reckon with.”
During the rally, journalists failed to livestream the proceedings amid claims that there was deliberate slowing down of internet services to stop the CCC rally from being publicised on social media.
An international watchdog that monitors cyber-security and the governance of the internet, Netblocks reported that there was a significant slowing of internet services for many users in Zimbabwe as CCC held its rally, which impacted multiple operators and prevented livestreaming from the rally.
Netblocks said metrics were consistent with the “slowing, or throttling of services”, but could not conclusively identify the cause of network disruption.
⚠️ Confirmed: Metrics indicate that internet service is degraded for many users in #Zimbabwe; the incident is likely to limit live streaming and access to online content as #YellowSunday opposition rallies are held at Highfields, Harare 📉
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 20, 2022
“Confirmed metrics indicate that internet service is degraded for many users in Zimbabwe; the incident is likely to limit livestreaming and access to online content as #YellowSunday opposition rallies are held at Highfield, Harare,” the watchdog said on Twitter.
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