Friday, June 12, 2015

Zimbabwe: Opposition parties say by-elections have exposed irregularities

OPPOSITION parties have slammed the just ended parliamentary by-elections that saw Zanu PF winning in all the 16 contested constituencies.

The MDCs boycotted the elections, accusing the Zanu PF government of refusing to implement electoral reforms.

Zanu PF expectedly claimed all the seats.

MDC-T national spokesperson Obert Gutu said they were vindicated by the low turn-out of voters who "heeded the party's call to snub the sham polls until the implementation of far-reaching electoral reforms."

The Morgan Tsvangirai-led party had been calling for people to either stay away or spoil their ballot papers.

"The by-elections have largely vindicated our position as even these polls were fraught with the massive irregularities we have highlighted such as vote-buying, abuse of traditional leaders and disenfranchisements as some voters found their names not on the voters roll.

"The low voter turnout and the paltry votes for the so-called winners tell their own sad story. This is a pyrrhic victory for the Zanu PF regime. It is, indeed, a hollow and meaningless ‘’victory"," said Gutu.

He said the by-elections results were a victory for the majority who stayed away from the polls.

"Even in Tsholotsho where two Vice Presidents competed to buy votes by dishing out money and rice, the 11,000 votes recorded are still a far cry from the over 40,000 registered voters in that sparsely populated constituency.

"From Luveve in Bulawayo to Dzivarasekwa in Harare, the story is the same; Zimbabweans stayed away from these sham polls.

"Zimbabweans heeded the call by the MDC and President Morgan Tsvangirai not to participate in these polls until far-reaching reforms were implemented to ensure a credible outcome."

Sad day for Bulawayo

Addressing a press conference in Bulawayo on Thursday, MDC Renewal national chairperson, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, said 11 June 2015 would go down as the saddest day in Bulawayo for decades to come.

Nkomo accused Tsvangirai of colluding with Zanu PF, saying the people of Bulawayo and Zimbabwe in general will not forgive him.

"He (Tsvangirai) created by-elections knowing quite well that his party was not going to participate in that election.

"In connivance with Zanu PF, he removed opposition MPs from Parliament who were legitimately voted for by the people in huge numbers only to replace them by people's tormentors," said Nkomo.


He said the country was now in a messy situation after the MDC-T deliberately reduced opposition numbers in Parliament.

Meanwhile, in its preliminary statement the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said while the voting process itself went smoothly, there were recorded cases of voter intimidation at various polling stations.

"Reports from observers indicated that in a number of constituencies, suspected Zanu PF officials and village heads were recording the details of voters before they arrived at a polling station and after the voter had cast their vote.

According to ZESN, such reports came from observers in Tsholotsho (Zabagwuadi Business Centre), Headlands (Nehumba Primary School) and Hurungwe West (Murapa Primary School).

ZESN also said in some cases police officers assisted voters to cast their votes.

Poll irregularities

"In 90% of the polling stations where ZESN observed police were present inside the polling station. ZESN notes that the heavy police presence inside and outside the polling stations may intimidate voters.

"Furthermore, observers witnessed Police Personnel being actively involved in assisting voters. This practice goes against international best norms and standards where the role of the police is limited to maintaining law and order," the organisation noted.

There were also many voters who were turned away and ZESN attributed this to the inadequacy of voter education prior to the mini-polls.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) candidate for Headlands constituency, David Mukunda, said the by-election was a sham after two Zanu PF supporters were arrested for flouting electoral regulations.

The Zanu PF supporters were arrested in Nyawanhu village.

Assistant Inspector Muzoda, who was in charge of Chironga Business Centre polling station, arrested the two for allegedly writing down voters' names and their identity document numbers before they went in to vote.

Mukunda was contesting against Zanu PF’s Christopher Chingosho.

"The by-election process is marred by irregularities and it is clear that the system has been tempered with. The elections were not fair at all,” said Mukunda.

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