By Rufaro Gijima
While the MDC Alliance among other opposition parties made so much noise about being involved in the electoral processes, the electoral board (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) gladly facilitated it, however their demands are slowly becoming ludicrous and need to be contained.
Initially, there were wrangles over adoption of the biometric voter’s registration (BVR), which the MDC was calling for, and the electoral board in keeping with international trends gladly gave in, but the opposition further realised that the BVR alone was not the panacea to winning elections in the country hence the need to further scrounge for imagined faults, along the electoral process.
Discontented MDC then moved in with yet another strategy, claiming that there was intimidation for registration in their strongholds since there was poor voter registration turn-out e.g in Bulawayo province over Zanu PF strongholds such as Masvingo province. Claims which they later ignored realising that towards the end of the registration process, their strongholds began registering high volumes.
After re-registering all voters, the MDC then demanded that ZEC provide them with a provisional biometric voters’ roll in electronic analysable data so that they could track changes and other duplications ahead of polls, another demand which the board gave in to, in the spirit of promoting transparency and accountability in the management of electoral processes.
Now hardly a month before the elections, the same people are claiming that ZEC has a litany of electoral irregularities which it allegedly choreographed to scupper coalition presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa’s chances of winning the July 30 presidential race.
Among them is that President Mnangagwa’s name had been suspiciously put on top of all the presidential candidates’ list, and yet ZEC simply placed President Mnangagwa’s name on his rightful position, in accordance to his position 15, in alphabetical order.
I mean honestly, would one’s position on the ballot paper really jeopardise one’s chances of winning an election, if it’s not a mere excuse. Zimbabwe has a literacy level of 92% and to say the electorate would fail to note their preferred candidate based on the position they are placed on the ballot paper is an insult.
Or is it not MDC’s attempt at usurping powers of ZEC and tamper with its independence by challenging the designs of the ballot paper, pretending that ballot paper had been designed in favour of President Mnangagwa.
After all, according to section 239 (g) of the Constitution, the designing and printing and distribution of ballot papers are the sole responsibility of ZEC. Anyone else other than ZEC demanding to be involved in these functions directly or indirectly is deemed by the commission as one attempting to grab powers and independence of the electoral management body.
MDC shouldn’t be provided with a leeway to exploit the electoral body based of their crazed whims when at the end of the day it’s an well-orchestrated ploy to discredit the elections which, all indications now point to their defeat.
Other than that MDC is also accusing ZEC of barring them from observing the printing of the ballot paper!
Alas! An invitation was extended to all parties to go to Fidelity Printers where the ballot papers were being printed and interested parties went and witnessed the process, only for MDC Alliance to come out guns blazing claiming that they only saw the process from the gallery, 20 meters away.
Really, what is it that they wanted? A test -run of the machine? Or for them to print on their own? Mind you, there are other security risks to worry about, as much as Government wants to appease all opposition parties by ensuring a level playing field.
It is plain to all that these alleged irregularities are now being raised following US government pulled the rug off Chamisa’s feet by withdrawing funding to several pro-democracy groups believed to be the electoral campaigners for the opposition party.
Concurrently, Dr Thokozani Khupe is also tightening screws for the MDC Alliance as she has approached the courts, demanding that MDC Alliance gives her the money due to the MDC-T party under the Political Parties Finance Act (PPFA). All these conditions are creating financial pressure on the alliance which is now seeking a justification to pull out of the elections.
MDC Alliance shouldn’t be allowed to take the electorate for a ride, this election is of high integrity, and their demands can’t stop the nation from achieving that.