Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede was at his arrogant worst at a testy July press conference in the run-up to the 2013 elections.
Why wasn’t he releasing the electronic version of the voters’ roll, frustrated journalists wanted to know.
After deflecting for innumerable times, Mudede went into an incoherent monologue about how little time his department had been given to produce the voters’ roll.
But you say you have a printed version, surely you printed from an electronic source, why not release THAT? a reporter wanted to know.
Mudede ducked and dived and, in the end, failed to justify his inexplicable failure to comply with a key electoral requirement.
After being compelled by a court order, Mudede only released the roll on the day of the election, dramatically delivering it in large reams of paper on the back of a truck.
Mudede’s exit from government, 11 years after he reached retirement age, was announced late yesterday and drew arguably the biggest cheer of all the changes President Emmerson Mnangagwa made to senior levels of his administration.
It is not hard to see why.
To the opposition, Mudede who ran the country’s elections in 2000 and 2002 as the Movement for Democratic Change loosened ZANU-PF’s stranglehold on power, became the face of poll rigging.
There was even an unflattering song composed for him.
As the custodian of the country’s civil registrations, Mudede was also the target of several lawsuits by single parents, mostly women, after his department refused to issue birth certificates for their children.
One of his last acts in office was to defend a lawsuit lodged by journalist Violet Gonda, who says she was denied a passport because her name is on some ‘stop list’ that Mudede’s department allegedly drew up for ‘regime opponents.’
Ordered by the court to issue Gonda with a passport, Mudede refused to apologise. “I don’t apologise, Lady. I don’t,” he told her.
Instead, he would hunt down the official – he described the official as a “worm” – who unwittingly blew the lid on the existence of the blacklist.
But Mudede’s election infamy is almost matched by his role in what must rank as one of the ZANU-PF government’s lowest points — the Chinhoyi ‘diesel’ scandal.
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