MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been sucked into a vote-rigging scandal following Saturday’s controversial election of Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda to post of provincial chairperson.
About four MDC-T Bulawayo districts were reportedly barred from attending the Saturday provincial congress, where Tsvangirai was personally accrediting delegates.
The elections that saw Banda polling 707 votes against 213 for Senator Matson Hlalo, his main challenger, were marred by violence, allegations of vote-buying and reports of ballot-stuffing.
Losing candidates dismissed the results as a sham, a sad day for democracy and vowed to challenge the outcome, before accusing Tsvangirai of personally accrediting delegates to tacitly rig elections in favour of Banda.
“It was just a repeat of what they did during our last congress in Bulawayo, where they rigged the elections in favour of Gorden Moyo (ex-Bulawayo MDC-T chairperson),” a fuming Hlalo said yesterday.
“They have done it again. They rigged again as was expected.”
“It’s a loss for democracy, a sad day for all party members who believe in democracy.
“How can the election be legitimate, when four districts were barred from attending?
“We always (MDC-T) talk of being rigged, yet we are specialists in rigging.”
The Lobengula, Makokoba, Bulawayo East and Magwegwe elected districts members were allegedly barred from voting.
Swithern Chirowodza, the election agent for Hlalo added that they will contest the results, as the whole election process was shambolic and rigged in favour of Banda.
“The elections were rigged,” he charged.
“The accreditation was not done according to the set guidelines and the fact that Tsvangirai was personally accrediting delegates is reflective of the level of rigging.
“We are not accepting these fake results. It was a sham election.
“The total vote cast is also reflective of ballot-stuffing, and confirms our suspicions.
“The vote does not tally with the number of delegates as at confirmation process.
“A total of 1 390 are said to have cast their votes yet we had only 700 confirmed delegates,” Chirowodza claimed.
Banda yesterday downplayed vote-rigging allegations, saying it was “unfortunate that the losing parties will resort to lying to tarnish the vote process”.
“There is no winner or loser to this election.
“It’s just that people, delegates, decided to choose someone to lead them for a certain period.
“People should accept the results so that we move forward as a party ahead of the 2018 elections.
“We need to come together, unite as a party against our common enemy Zanu PF.
“It’s unfortunate that losing parties will resort to allegations.”
Dorcas Sibanda and Albert Mhlanga, the Bulawayo Central and Pumula legislator were elected unopposed as deputy chairperson and organising secretary respectively.