Tsvangirai opens can of worms

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has made more sensational allegations of vote-rigging in a dossier presented to the Constitutional Court (Concourt) challenging the validity of the July 31 elections, including claims that even school teachers were assisted to vote.

STAFF REPORTER

In the dossier, accompanying his petition to the Concourt, Tsvangirai said he would provide evidence, including affidavits and testimonies to buttress his claims that the elections were marred by corrupt, illegal practises and other electoral malpractices.

He said there was evidence proving that thousands of voters were forced to plead illiteracy in order to be “assisted” to cast their ballots.

Tsvangirai said reports from parliamentary candidates and election agents demonstrated that traditional leaders commandeered rural voters under their jurisdiction to vote at specific times and to declare illiteracy so that they would be “assisted” to vote.

The MDC-T leader said Vice-President Joice Mujuru was shown on national television openly calling for traditional leaders to assist persons under their jurisdiction to vote for Zanu PF.

He said the extent of the problem of involuntarily “assisted voters” across the country would be easily evident from the number of persons who supposedly opted for assistance.

“I am advised that in one constituency, at least 10 500 voters out of 17 000 who cast their ballots were assisted, a figure that is incredible considering this is a country applauded for having some of the highest literacy rates in Africa,” Tsvangirai said.

He said the MDC-T had since collected evidence that the 206 901 “assisted” voters, as confirmed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), were intimidated by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF supporters, agents and associates.

Tsvangirai said from the affidavits compiled by the party, it was clear that there was a sophisticated and well-orchestrated system of intimidation that led to perfectly literate individuals professing that they could not read and write.
“I contend that over 200 000 votes were attributed to the first respondent (Mugabe) in his final vote tally are a direct result of electoral fraud,” he said in his court application.

“On this basis alone the election should be nullified.”

Tsvangirai alleged that there was rampant misuse of voter registration slips.
He said on election day, the party unearthed a scam in which tens of thousands of fraudulent slips were issued out and were being used for voting.

Tsvangirai said in Hatfield, Harare, alone 500 people were found to have in their possession fake registration slips, resulting in six of them being arrested.
He said similar incidents were witnessed in Epworth, Mt Pleasant and Harare South where persons had been bussed in to vote from other constituencies, using voter registration slips.

The Mt Pleasant incident was captured on video.

Tsvangirai said Zanu PF supporters were bussed to vote in at least 28 constituencies won by the MDC-T in 2008 with voters registered under dubious addresses that included security establishments and bogus housing co-operatives.

“The problem is that the abuse of the facility to use voter registration slips on a large scale permitted otherwise ineligible persons to vote in constituencies other than their own,” he said.

“It allowed room for multiple voting, the effect of which was to inflate the number of voters in specific constituencies across the country.”

The MDC-T leader said the problem was exacerbated by there being insufficient mechanisms to prevent multiple voting, including the absence of the ink-detecting machinery at polling stations coupled with that the ink easily washed away.
Tsvangirai was also concerned about the alleged duplication of 870 000 names on the voters’ roll, which he said resulted in ZEC printing an extra two million ballot papers, basing on a grossly inflated and flawed register.

He said the duplication of names and the extra ballot papers significantly raised the risk of multiple voting and unaccounted for ballots, putting into serious doubt the credibility of the voters’ roll and the entire electoral process.

Tsvangirai said the special voting system was exposed to abuse in that it allowed room for service personnel to vote more than once during the election, thereby inflating the voting figures. He said there was no accountability on the number of persons eligible for special voting, as the number of approved voters did not tally with the number of personnel in the service of the police in accordance with the government payment records.

Further, the MDC-T leader said ZEC also failed to account for the number of ballots used on the special voting days, how many were printed and distributed and how many were unused and what happened to them.

He said thousands of voters were turned away at polling stations resulting in the disenfranchisement of an industrial scale and therefore affecting the credibility of the election.

Tsvangirai said information gathered showed that at least 750 000 voters were turned away at polling stations, mainly in urban areas.

He also alleged vote-buying by the First Lady Grace Mugabe and Zanu PF candidates.
He said Zanu PF was actively involved in doling out food handouts and other goodies at campaign rallies in breach of the Electoral Act and a code of conduct signed by all political parties.

Tsvangirai also complained of the partisan manner of the State-owned media in violation of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, as well as Sadc guidelines obliging them to act in a fair and balanced manner during election time.

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