ZANU PF’s victory in the Zengeza parliamentary by-election at the weekend has sparked controversy after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and civic organisations claimed t
o have found evidence of electoral fraud, intimidation and violence by the ruling party, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
A Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) report made available to the Independent this week cited cases of electoral irregularities, mainly the “unusually large” numbers of assisted voters in the election.
A few of the assisted voters were elderly people, but the majority were youths who claimed “illiteracy, sickness, blurred vision or unsteady hands”, the report says.
The Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) gave the total number of assisted voters as 334.
ESC spokesman Thomas Bvuma said there was nothing amiss about the assisted voters.
“The country’s electoral laws stipulate that an ESC monitor and a police officer, authorised by the presiding officer, can help a person who justifiably requires assistance to vote,” he said.
Allegations of vote-rigging also surfaced in Unit H, Chitungwiza, where a new open-air polling station was only announced on the eve of the poll.
Despite being a relatively unknown station, it recorded a high voter turnout, “the majority of whom belonged to the Apostolic Faith religious group identified by their white clothing”, said ZESN.
Bvuma refused to comment on this matter.
“We will only comment after we release our analysis report of the election after two weeks,” he said.
ZESN chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove criticised the ruling party for ignoring regional standards for elections.
“The election was held in an atmosphere that does not comply with minimal conditions specified by the Sadc Parliamentary Forum,” he said. “If ‘peace’ in Gutu North (by-election) was possible, then why the unprecedented level of violence in Zengeza?”
Matchaba-Hove attributed the large numbers of “illiterate” youths who were “assisted” to vote to urban poverty:
“The youths who requested assistance would come in a systematically organised groups. It is a mixture of poverty and coercion that is forcing these people to be used,” he said.
Other civic groups monitoring the election said at Dudzai primary school, a group of people, allegedly Zanu PF agents, was seen writing down the names and national identification numbers of people who had just cast their ballots. This, they said, instilled fear in those who were yet to cast their votes.
Some voters in the volatile constituency alleged that Christopher Chigumba, the winning ruling party candidate, went on a vote-buying spree before the elections, doling out $10 000 to individuals who attended his rallies.