ZANU PF has reportedly manipulated referendum figures to suit its template for predetermined victory in the next critical general elections, with party officials telling supporters and would-be voters especially in Mashonaland provinces since the greater percentage of the “Yes” voters were from its strongholds, that would translate into a landslide at the polls.
Elias Mambo/Herbert Moyo
With referendum voting trends showing traditional Zanu PF rural strongholds recorded high turnouts to drive the “Yes” vote compared to urban areas, there are fears the party could manipulate the results to register a convincing victory in the imminent make-or-break elections.
According to figures released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), voting trends showed an increase of voters in Zanu PF-dominated areas such as Mashonaland provinces and key regions like Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands, raising questions over the accuracy of the results.
While Harare recorded the highest votes with 515 000, Manicaland recorded 418 000; Mashonaland Central 342 000; Mashonaland East 397 000; Mashonaland West 342 000; Masvingo 304 000; Midlands 394 000, with Bulawayo and the Matabeleland provinces recording low voter turnout.
Zec says 3 259 454 voted on March 16 and is the highest turnout in any poll since Independence, beating the previous record of 3 046 891 set in the 2002 presidential election.
Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau initially projected a voter turnout of close to two million on March 17 before announcing a turnout of more than three million – a huge increase on its earlier projection.
Zanu PF has vowed to go for broke in the forthcoming high-stakes elections and is known for using all sorts of strategies and tactics to win by fair means or foul. Suspicion abounds that the more than three million voter turnout in the referendum may have been manipulated to give Zanu PF leverage in its rigging plot ahead of elections.
Those questioning the referendum figures point to the virtual absence of queues at most polling stations countrywide, contrary to Zec’s claims of a high voter turnout.
NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said the results were doctored.
“To claim that there was close to a million more voters in the referendum than in the March 2008 harmonised elections is to take the public for fools,” said Madhuku. “In any event, the claim that more than three million voted is a fraud by Zec.”
Sources in the security sector said there was a parallel collation of results carried out by the police during the voting process.
“Police sent results every hour to an unknown centre not under the Zec command centres,” said the source.
Political analyst Blessing Vava said Zanu PF used the referendum to test its rigging machinery in preparation for the elections.
“This referendum was a dress rehearsal for Zanu PF to test its machinery for rigging the next elections,” said Vava.
Vava said the NCA had observers at every polling station and is convinced the figures are nowhere near three million. He said the MDC parties would “suffer the consequences of their folly in joining Zanu PF to endorse what was clearly a fraudulent process”.
“While it is understandable for Zanu PF to claim high turnouts, especially in rural areas, it is surprising the MDC parties endorsed the fraudulent process. Having endorsed this process, the MDC parties will no longer have the moral high ground to complain when rigging is repeated in the elections,” Vava warned.
MDC-T sources said the party failed to field polling agents across the country, leaving Zec officials and the security apparatus to run the process unchecked.
Sources said the fraud was committed by printing 12 million ballot papers for the referendum which many estimated would not even attract a quarter of eligible voters.