Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change has questioned the capacity of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to handle nationwide elections on 31 July claiming that the first day of special voting yesterday was chaotic.
“As a party we are concerned that if ZEC cannot manage 209 centres for this special vote, how will they manage over ten thousand polling stations on 31 July 2013?,” the party said in one of its three releases yesterday.
“The MDC believes it would be a travesty of justice and a violation of people’s rights if ZEC fails to correct all these anomalies in time for people to vote.”
The party had called for the special voting to be stopped because of irregularities but the exercise went ahead.
Its case is being heard today.
Below is what the MDC is saying in its own words:
Special Vote in Chaotic Start
The MDC notes with dismay the chaotic state of the Special Vote exercise countrywide. The exercise which kicked off today has totally failed to measure up to expected standards of credibility and transparency.
Multitudes of expectant civil servants and security officers are struggling to cast their votes owing to poor logistical coordination. It has also failed to measure up to ZEC’s promises that it is ready to conduct national elections. The exercise is fraught with irregularities such as lack of ballot papers, no ZEC staff at polling stations intimidation and vote buying. We are receiving reports from our agents on the ground and police officers who are waiting to cast their votes.
The following are some of the disturbing reports coming from various centers across the country;
Mt Pleasant Hall
A total of 30 police officers at Mt Pleasant Hall smashed windows claiming ZEC was too slow in the process. However the station opened at 7am in the morning.
Kuwadzana Community Hall
A woman police Inspector was inspecting police officers who were in the queue at Kuwadzana Community Hall. This action is intimidatory to the police officers. As a result of the action, 19 Officers were turned away on allegations of not having correct papers.
There were no ballot papers at Mabvuku Hall, Kuwadzana Community Hall, Mt Pleasant Hall, Highfield High 1 School and Town House by 0900hrs. In Mbare, Mai Musodzi Hall centre opened at 08:00 with a few people.
No ballot papers in the whole Province by 10:00hrs. The process was still to start up until 12:00hrs. In Chinhoyi ballot papers came at 09:30hrs. The Process is still to start. Accreditation started at 10:00hrs. Overally ballot papers came late.
No equipment has been send to the Province. In Shamva North there is no sign that the process shall start. In Mazowe North at Mvurwi Town Council Offices, there is a campaign by Zanu PF supporters taking place within 100 metres. The process is still to start because there are no ballot papers.
Officers in Charge in Mount Darwin and Mbire addressed police and directed them to vote Zanu PF. They also warned them they will find out who they voted for.
The whole province is still to vote. In Bulilima East, they claim material is still in Bulawayo and it will arrive in two hrs time from (1000hrs)
In Beit Bridge East, voting is still to start in Chikualakuala. In Gwanda Central, at Joshua Nkomo Polytechnic the voting process was yet to start at 01000hrs. The same applied in Gwanda North.
Insiza South and North, ZEC officials had not arrived by 0900hrs this morning.
In Beit Bridge West, there were no ZEC Officials at Zezani Primary School by 0900hrs. Officials were said to come by 11:00hrs. At the time of writing, there were no officials.
Stations just started receiving ballot papers at 1037hrs.
No ballot papers in the whole province by 10:00hrs
In Chiredzi East – In Ndali, the Member in Charge for the local police station is in charge of the voting process instead of the ZEC Officials.
MDC polling agents turned away in Zaka, Bikita and Chiredzi. No proper reason given.
In Chivi North at Nerupiri, some civil servants told to vote on the 31st of July 2013 because they registered on the 30th of June 2013.
No ballot papers by 10:00hrs this morning. In Umguza, Hon. Masuku observed that more than 5 buses of Support Unit troops have been recorded in Nyamandlovu
Nkayi North – Sithembiso Nyoni slaughtered a beast for police officers yesterday. A case of vote buying. Voting is still to commence by 1000hrs this morning.
In Tsholotsho, voting is still to start because there are no ballot papers and boxes including the technical staff.
Hwange Central, East, West and the whole of Victoria Falls, no ballot papers by 09:00hrs
At Lwendulu School in Hwange Central Number 1, Zanu PF cadres were busy campaigning 100 metres within the centre. This is a violation of the Electoral Act.
Most places like Mudzi North, Maramba, Wedza North, Seke Teachers and Ngezi, ballot papers came as late as 09:00hrs. In areas like Mutoko and Mrehwa elections started well on time. No problems faced so far.
In Macheke, voting started after 10:00hrs. However the ballot papers are wrapped and it is difficult to see if the papers have been voted on or not. ZEC claims that political parties agreed that polling agents from political parties can not have access to the papers.
Chikomba Central, no ballot papers by 11:00am.
In Gokwe South, the voting centre is still to open as at 11am.
Mberengwa East, nothing has happened up to now.
In Shurugwi North, ballot boxes and ballot papers are still to reach the concerned polling stations.
No ballot papers as at 10am.
Voting was till to start by 11:00hrs. No ballot papers and boxes have been delivered to the province.
No ballot papers in Manicaland by 1200hrs.
Zanu PF has pitched its command centre 5 metres away from the polling station. This is the clearest manifestation of lack of readiness on the part of ZEC to conduct a credible poll.
As a party we are concerned that if ZEC cannot manage 209 centers for this special vote, how will they manage over ten thousand polling stations on 31 July 2013? The MDC believes it would be a travesty of justice and a violation of people’s rights if ZEC fails to correct all these anomalies in time for people to vote.
We will continue to monitor the process and provide updates.
Special Voting Synopsis at 1800hrs
The MDC is extremely worried by the manner in which ZEC is handling the Special Vote process. The process continues to be chaotic and engulfed in a plethora of irregularities which do not only expose ZEC’s lack of readiness to conduct an election but also the lack of credibility and legitimacy of the whole process. By 12.00pm today, 90% of the polling had not recieved ballot papers, with places such as Beit bridge receiving same as late as 17.00 hrs today.
The MDC condemns the delays in the voting process as Special voters are being unnecesarily subjedted to waiting for long periods before casting their votes.
Below are recorded cases that highlight these irregularities;
• In Nketa, by 14:00hrs, eight people had cast their ballots and 37 had been turned away because their envelopes were not present. However, at 1430hrs chaos erupted and voting had come to a standstill following disagreements between junior and senior police officers when the latter wanted to jump the queue.
• In Magwegwe, only seven papers were present at the polling centre instead 350 expected.
• At Mabvuku Hall, there were more than 3000, less than 50 managed to vote because during the process the computer being used had a fault. At some point, the computer had to be replaced rendering the whole process incredible.
• 84 people cast their ballot at Mai Musodzi centre in Mbare.
• Voting commenced at 1600hrs across the province.
• MDC election agents were being turned away in Mutare South and Headlands.
• In Mutare urban, some ZEC officials were being turned away on the basis that their envelopes were not available at their respective polling stations even though their names were in the voters roll.
• Centenary High School polling station commenced the voting process at 1210hrs and at St Albert’s centre it started by 1410 hrs.
• In Muzarabani at Muzarabani High School the voting process started at 1410hrs.
• In Mvurwi, a Zanu pf official in was addressing police officers before casting their ballots.
• In Mudzi and Marondera by 1700hrs they had not received ballot papers.
• In Murehwa South, there was intimidation of junior police officers by their superiors.
• In Chikomba, Zanu PF candidate Mike Bimha drove and parked a vehicle covered in election posters within 100 meters from the polling station.
• 41 ballot papers were delivered at 1530hrs at Liebenberg polling station.
• In Wedza, ballot papers arrived at 1600hrs at Wedza Council Boardroom.
• In Zvimba West voting only commenced at 1530hrs at Murombedzi polling station.
• No ballot papers have be dispatched by ZEC to the province.
• All the districts, save for Umguza, had not received their ballot papers by 1650hrs.
• In Umguza, 90 people had cast their votes at Nyamandlhovhu district council hall.
• In Beitbridge West and East, most polling centres were still to receive ballot papers by 1600hrs.
• In Insiza South, ballots papers only arrived at 1400 hrs.
• Shangani polling centre is yet to receive ballot papers.
• In Gwanda, all three polling stations had not received their allocation of ballot papers by 1700hrs.
• Voting commenced at 1257hrs in Gokwe Central.
• In Gokwe Kana voting only began at 1500hrs.
• In Vungu, polling began at 1400hrs due to the late delivery of ballot papers.
• In Zhombe, Zanu PF activists were loitering around a polling station in their party regalia intimidating police officers waiting to cast their ballots.
• In Zvishavane-Ngezi polling started at 1600hrs.
• In Mberengwa East, voting began at 1423hrs.
• In Ruwa, polling only commenced at 1630hrs and officials are using an electronic voter`s roll.
• In Goromonzi, spouses of police masquerading as police officers RDC were being allowed to cast their ballots.
The MDC notes with grave concern the discrepancies in the numbers of dispatched ballot papers and the number of people waiting in queues. Below is the total number of ballot papers dispatched by ZEC as of 1900hrs;
1. Matebeleland North – 1724
2. Matebeleland South – 153
3. Mashonaland Central – 450
4. Manicaland – 127
5. Mashonaland East – 569
6. Mashonaland West – 435
7. Midlands – 1204
8. Harare – 566
9. Bulawayo – 864
10. Masvingo – 0 (no ballot papers have been dispatched)
This brings a total of 6 092 dispatched ballot papers. However, ZEC states that over 70 000 applications were approved for the Special Vote meaning over 60 000 ballot papers are yet to be dispatched. No one knows when the rest of these ballot papers will be dispatched as this voting is supposed to close on 15 July.
According to ZEC, the breakdown of applications is as follows;
1. Army – 140 applications
2. Prison Services – 2000 applications
3. Police – 69 292 applications
4. Ministry of Foreign Affairs – less than one thousand.
The handling of the Special Vote by ZEC leaves a lot to be desired. The system is fraught with irregularities rendering the process opaque.
We will continue to monitor the process while engaging ZEC to ensure they address the irregularities we raised above. Members of security forces must be assured that, as the MDC we are monitoring the processes.
The law is also on their side as no one will be allowed to coerce them into voting candidates other than their choice. Theirs is a special vote to bring in a fresh start and a special New Zimbabwe, come July 31, 2013.
Tsvangirai checkmates Mugabe at Mucheke
President Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday today threw the gauntlet on Zanu PF leader Robert Mugabe in the former Zanu PF stronghold of Masvingo.
Addressing tens of thousands of supporters gathered at Mucheke stadium that turned the sleepy townh into a sea of red, the President said the MDC is ready to provide a God fearing leadership that is emphathetic to the people.
“We want people to know that we are dedicating this country to God, rule of law and the respect of the individual rights. As MDC, we have a plan.
“This country needs leadership not judges. Leaders should respect the people as the people respects the government. Not to rule by fear. We want a government of the people, by the people with the people,” President Tsvangirai said.
He added, “We want to change from a culture of non-accountability. Where the people ask for transparency and they are assaulted. We can not have a government that exercises selective application of the law. We are talking about Zanu PF’s record in government.”
He said the MDC promises Zimbabweans a government that is led by servant leadership. A government that consults.
While Mugabe and Zanu PF have always claimed the MDC is against the land reform programme the President addressed this issue and told cheering supporters the party is against multiple land ownership and the parcelling out of land to the elite.
“We are in disagreement on the issue of farms because the majority of the people never got land. Only Zanu PF, some police and army chefs got land, the the majority of our people are still landless.
“We want land reform because vakuru makazvigovera. vaigara mumakomo, vachirimo now they have the land and do not produce, we have to import food,” President Tsvangirai said.
On Mugabe’s threats to bring back the Zim Dollar, President Tsvangirai said.
“This money was not able to buy anything for breakfast. Bush economics has no place in a new Zimbabwe. The economy can only be revived by people with a vision. Our economy is functioning at half the capacity,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Tsvangirai has questioned the capacity of thew Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to run a free and fair election given that by midday yesterday, the Special Voting exercise had not started in most areas due to lack of the basic voting materials like ink and ballot papers.
“ZEC has been tasked to run a free, fair and credible election but I have information that the special vote has not started because there are no ballot papers at most centres. ZEC, do you have the capacity to run an election of six million voters if you are unable to conduct an election of 80 000?” President Tsvangirai asked.
He however, urged the disciplined forces to remember that their future lay in voting for a government of the future. A government that can provide for their families, even after the elections and one that listens to citizens.
“Remember that you have a future. It is your right to choose so that you may stand proud to have participated in defending the future of the country. We must protect our vote, and we must protect the outcome of that vote. There is a semblance of peace in the country with sporadic reports of violence. We need to ensure that people vote in peace and subsequently celebrate the outcome of that vote without violence,” President Tsvangirai has said.
“How nice it would be that the loser would shake hands with the winner,” he added.
He added that peace and a sense of belonging, security and dignity is all the people and the nation want, and this can only be provided for under a new administration.
He said the dying opposition, Zanu PF had shown its disregard for humanity when it made 90-year old Mugabe to stand as its presidential candidate despite the Constitution stating that no one over 70 years should stand as president.
“There was a reason for that. Zanu PF ine hutsinye (is cruel),” he said.
On food security, President Tsvangirai said the MDC has a plan aimed at seeing the land being productive again. He bemoaned the Zanu PF chaotic land reform process saying it did not reflect the need the people have
in the country.
“The MDC is the party that is going to provide answers to all our problems. We are in disagreement on the issue of land and farms because the majority of the people never got land. Only Zanu PF chefs, some police and army chefs got land, the remainder are still landless.
We want land reform because vakuru makazvigovera. Vaigara mumakomo land reform isati yaitwa, vachirimo. While you have given yourself the land, you are not producing anything, we have to import food,” President Tsvangirai said.
President Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe needs leaders not judges. He said people should know that the MDC is dedicating this country to God, the rule of law and respect of the individual. He said in order to do this, the leadership should have a plan to rebuild and refocus the attention of the nation.
“The leadership should respect the people as the people respects the government, not to rule by fear. We want a government of the people, by the people with the people. We want to change a culture of unaccountability, where the people ask for transparency and they are assaulted not have the issues addressed. We cannot have a government that exercises selective application of the law. We are not attacking anyone, we are merely talking about their poor record in government. I promise you a government that is led by servant leaders. A government
that consults the people, President Tsvangirai said.
To add to that, Amai Tsvangirai made pleas to the people of Zimbabwe to refrain from violence.
“I want to speak in relation with women’s issues. Women are struggling to work for their children to go to school, then after graduation, the children are unable to get jobs. We are now suffering from stress related illnesses because we are always thinking about the welfare of our children,” she said.
She castigated violence and the use of hate language saying political party supporters are Zimbabwean first before they support any party.
“We are going to election time, I was in Zaka last year and I saw some of our children who were burnt in 2008. Please, please ngatisakuvadzana. Despite our political difference, we ought to tolerate one another. Let us not fight each other because we are children of the same parents. We are all Zimbabweans,” she said.
She strengthened the people by referring to the scriptures in the books of Samuel where she said God’s time is always best.
“In the bible there is the story of Saul and David. Saul attacked David not knowing the David was merely moving in God’s time. David may have suffered, but his time was coming when he would take over the leadership of Israel. God’s time is the best and this is the Time,”
she said much to the amusement of the people of Masvingo. She further urged the people to go and vote in their millions.
Hon Tendai Biti took the time to narrate the roadmap travelled and how the MDC made lives better for the people.
“We must never underestimate President Tsvangirai’s love for the people. His life has been that of service and sacrifice. Schools were closed but today our children have textbooks” Hon Biti said.
Mai Sibusisiwe Masara, the Women’s Assembly Secretary also spoke and pledged the women’s vote to President Tsvangirai.
The Youth Assembly, represented by its Secretary General Promise Mkwananzi said;
“The youth have an obligation in this final journey to vote for a New Zimbabwe. We define our destiny by voting for jobs, good governance, upliftment and transparency. We define our destiny by voting Morgan Tsvangirai for President. The young people need to protect the vote of the people until the MDC takes over party. We must be ready to protect our vote. we should demand that the votes are announced after counting.
“The Youth Assembly is a principled Youth Assembly. We are going to defend our vote using peaceful and constitutional means,”Mkwananzi said.