THE high turnout in recent Zanu PF primary elections has raised suspicion that President Robert Mugabe and his election fixers are planning to use the figures as evidence of purported overwhelming support for the party to justify their grand plot to rig the upcoming general polls.
Zanu PF has repeatedly claimed that it would win the elections after the March 16 referendum citing a record turnout in its strongholds despite its failures.
Even if it is pretending that all is well in its camp, accusations of rigging and irregularities in Zanu PF primaries are rife with over 100 candidates contesting the internal polls.
This also comes as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said his office had unearthed a rigging plan by Zanu PF where the party wants to register over 50 000 police officers, although the country has about 38 000 police officers.
Fears that Zanu PF is using the claimed high voter turnout in primary elections as a precursor to stealing general elections stemmed from constituencies such as the Mberengwa senatorial seat where July Moyo got over 19 000 votes against Rugare Gumbo’s 14 000.
Questions have also been asked about Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxillia, who unbelievably garnered over 17 000 votes in the Kwekwe-Chirumanzi senatorial constituency.
The 2008 elections voting pattern shows that regardless of the high number of registered voters, only 35% of eligible voters on average cast the ballot in Mberengwa, proving the majority of the electorate was not participating in polls.
But in the primaries, Moyo and Gumbo’s numbers totalled over 33 000, meaning more people voted in primaries than those who voted in the March 2008 elections.
But questions have arisen over the sudden jump in numbers of purported Zanu PF supporters in Mberengwa where demographic features show that the area is sparsely populated.
The turnout in Mberengwa is also questionable as the primaries were held on a Tuesday when most people were busy at work compared to the 2008 general elections which were held on a public holiday.
Zanu PF insiders say even Gumbo believed the figures were doctored in favour of Moyo, as preliminary results had shown that the latter had lost. Gumbo has lodged a complaint.
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director Pedzisai Ruhanya said there was so much chaos in the Zanu PF primaries.
“After the Zanu PF primaries, I went out for some field research in Masvingo and Midlands provinces to interrogate the voting trends and methods used in order to extract information and get explanations on the purported huge turn-out. This is what I got: Zanu PF provided four pieces of bond paper to each voter to write the name of the preferred candidate for MP, councillor, senator and provincial council representative,” he said.
“There was a single ballot box for these four votes. Instead of writing the four names on each paper for the respective candidates, the majority of voters wrote just the name of the MP four times, meaning that there was one person four votes, hence the inflated figures for MPs.
“In Mberengwa East, for instance, Zanu PF forced people to participate in the election. During counting of votes, 700 papers were written Cumming Hove, the MDC-T candidate in that constituency.
This is how shambolic the process was. The outcomes are so distorted for analytical purpose. However, one could simply divide the total number of voters by four to get some indication of the people who voted in a particular constituency.”
Ruhanya added: “Zanu PF disqualified the winning candidate in Zvishavane and imposed a coloured candidate arguing that MDC-T has fielded a white candidate so it was better for them to have a coloured. This led to massive defections in that area.”
Political commentator Godwin Phiri believes the figures were meant to predetermine the outcome of the make-or-break polls set for July 31.
“Zanu PF is creating fictitious figures to prepare the nation for ghost voters who will be used to steal the elections,” he said.
The voting figures fiasco was also evident in the March referendum where a record 3 259 454 voted, shattering the previous record of 3 046 891 set in the 2002 presidential election.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) initially projected a voter turnout of close to two million before the figures astronomically increased to over three million, making the referendum voting the highest turnout in any poll since Independence.
Pertinent questions were raised after an analysis of figures released by Zec, which indicated that although Harare recorded the highest votes with 515 000, Manicaland recorded 418 000; Zanu PF strongholds namely Mashonaland Central recorded 342 000; Mashonaland East 397 000; Mashonaland West 342 000; Masvingo 304 000; Midlands 394 000, with Bulawayo and the Matabeleland provinces recording a low voter turnout.
Another analyst, Chamu Mutasa, said: “I have serious questions with such a turnout for primaries and the referendum. It’s worrying why Midlands recorded a high turnout while in other constituencies the turn out did not exceed a couple of thousands. It just goes to show that there is a glimpse of what these guys (Zanu PF) are planning to do. Their rigging machinery is already in place.”
Phiri agreed saying there is a need for vigilance to ensure that the people’s vote is not “stolen by the calculator”.
Bulawayo-based political observer Melusi Nyathi noted that the mayhem at Zanu PF headquarters as candidates appealed and demonstrated against the primaries results while others filed papers to stand as independents was proof the party was in turmoil and will do anything to hold on to power.