Primaries expose Zanu PF rigging

Augustine Mukaro

ZANU PF’S just ended primaries have exposed the ruling party’s inability to conduct elections without rigging them.



, sans-serif”>The elections, originally set to be completed in a single day on Saturday, spilled into the week with some results being announced on Tuesday. In at least 17 constituencies, the poll was conducted yesterday after complaints of rigging and other irregularities forced reruns.


Reports from over 50 constituencies which held elections last weekend indicate that sub-standard materials such as ballot boxes and ballot papers were used leaving the election prone to serious abuse.


In Murehwa North constituency, where Heath minister David Parirenyatwa won the right to represent Zanu PF in the March parliamentary election ahead of the sitting MP Victor Chitongo, the ballot boxes were ordinary cardboard boxes. The ballot papers were pieces of unevenly cut newsprint while the voter verification process involved merely looking at the party card. There was no equipment to prevent multiple voting.


Chitongo appealed to the national elections directorate citing irregularities, which included issuance of extra party cards on the eve of voting and vote buying.


“The sale of old Zanu PF cards was suspended in October 2004, while new ones got to the district executives only… The only persons who were entitled to vote were card carrying members as at October 2004 and those that had access to new ones,” Chitongo wrote to the directorate.


Chitongo said prior to the primary elections and the night before, hordes of free cards were distributed, resulting in unqualified voters taking part in the elections. Some of the people distributing new party cards were discovered at Matututu Centre and were reported to the police.


“In light of the above irregularities, it cannot therefore be said that the outcome of the primary elections in Murehwa North reflect the true will of the people,” wrote Chitongo.


The disputed Murehwa North primary was witnessed by more than eight Zanu PF central committee and politburo members.Ministers Sydney Sekeramayi, Didymus Mutasa, former ministers Simba Makoni and Kumbirai Kangai and governor David Karimanzira were among the political heavyweights who were in the constituency over the weekend.


A number of the losing candidates complained of abuse of party cards by aspiring candidates. The cards were either withdrawn from voters or sold overnight to rented groups aligned to candidates in the central committee and politburo.


In Makoni West, sitting MP Gibson Munyoro has disputed Agriculture minister Joseph Made’s victory in the primaries. Munyoro accused Made of intimidation, bussing in supporters from outside the constituency and abusing Grain Marketing Board facilities to sway voters in his favour.


The most bizarre report came from Kadoma East where sitting MP and Labour minister Paul Mangwana allegedly torched ballot papers on realising that he was on the verge of losing the election.


In Masvingo Central there were reports that winning candidate Shylet Uyoyo was holding on to party cards and denying their release to opposing candidates. Uyoyo battled it out with Dzikamai Mavhaire in an election that was hotly contested. Initially, Mavhaire was backing the candidacy of lawyer Eddison Zvobgo (Jnr). But Zvobgo did not meet the party’s minimum requirements and was therefore elbowed out of the race despite being the most popular candidate.


In Harare’s Mufakose constituency, there are allegations that people were bussed from Mbare to vote for Sabina Thembani.