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Rigging on – Tsvangirai

Dumisani Muleya

THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has expressed fears that Zanu PF could have started rigging next year’s election using the latest “fictitious” voters’ roll.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said the voters’ roll showed significant reductions or marginal increases of registered voters in urban constituencies between 2000 and 2004 and dramatic increases in rural areas.

As a result, Harare and Bulawayo could lose seats during the ongoing delimitation exercise, he said. The two biggest cities, which are controlled by the MDC, lost constituencies during the demarcation of boundaries in 2000.

The voters’ roll shows that in May 2000 Bulawayo had a total of 357 281 registered voters and eight constituencies, but now it has 339 101 voters. This indicates a loss of 18 180 voters.

With the number of registered voters estimated at 5,6 million nationwide, on average each of the 120 constituencies should have 47 000 voters.

Bulawayo is therefore likely to have seven seats, instead of eight.

The city is controlled by the MDC. Zanu PF does not have even a council ward in Bulawayo.

Harare had 795 059 registered voters in 2000 and now has 831 935, an increase of 36 876. However, during delimitation Harare, which has 19 seats, could lose one or two constituencies.

Tsvangirai said this was surprising given that the 2002 population census showed a population increase, particularly in Harare, than in rural areas. He said the present voters’ roll should be audited to prevent electoral fraud.

“This confirms our view that the voters’ roll is deeply flawed and is used to commit electoral fraud,” he said.

“There has been political violence and intimidation but the manipulation of the voters’ roll has been the most common instrument of vote-rigging.”

While registered voters decreased in urban constituencies, they dramatically increased in rural provinces. The MDC won nearly all urban seats in 2000 and liquidated Zanu PF. The ruling party was banished to the rural areas.

Manicaland, which is largely rural, has registered the highest increase of registered voters. It had 577 398 voters in 2000 but now has 684 155, an increase of 106 757. The province, which has 14 constituencies, might gain one seat.

Zanu PF currently has six MPs while the MDC has seven and Zanu (Ndonga) has one. However, Zanu PF is hoping to retain most of its former rural seats.

Mashonaland Central, Zanu PF’s purported stronghold, has gained significantly. It had 418 277 registered voters in 2000 but now has 490 222. Mashonaland East had 506 817 voters in 2000 and now has 605 390, Mashonaland West had 502 964 voters and now has 593 021.

Voters increased in Masvingo from 593 778 to 676 686, Matabeleland North from 317 405 to 341 228, Matabeleland South from 319 015 to 340 709 and Midlands from 658 422 to 746 046.

This means that Matabeleland South might lose a seat while Mashonaland West could gain one during the drawing up of constituency boundaries.

The MDC has also expressed concern about the composition of the Delimitation Commission sworn in by President Robert Mugabe last month. It said the commission was dominated by Zanu PF functionaries and could be used for gerrymandering.

“In these circumstances, I demand an immediate independent audit of the voters’ roll to rectify the grave anomalies prior to the delimitation work,” Tsvangirai said. “I have instructed my legal team to consider legal action on the issue.”

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