THE opposition was yesterday battling with the alleged rigging of tomorrowâ€™s harmonised elections by President Robert Mugabe, as more evidence emerged that the ruling Zanu PF intends to steal the polls.Â
Both factions of the MDC and independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni claimed that the integrity and credibility of the historic polls was in doubt as a result of rigging by Mugabe.
Addressing a joint press conference last night, Makoni said Mugabe had come up with a well-planned project to steal the election through the creation of ghost voters and manipulation of the voters roll.
â€œThere is a well thought out and premeditated plan to steal the election from us,â€ Makoni said. â€œThe credibility of the electoral process is in doubt.â€
Arthur Mutambara, the president of the other faction of the MDC, said the Sadc and the international community should intervene to stop Mugabe from stealing the polls.
â€œAll we are asking for is a free and fair election,â€ Mutambara said. â€œThe irregularities we have uncovered are very fundamental, very serious. Please Sadc, the other African countries and the international community, help us to have a legitimate election that the losers will not challenge.â€
The Morgan Tsvangirai MDC at an earlier press conference said as a result of the rigging going on, the party was told by its electoral expert that Mugabe would win 58% of the votes cast. Tsvangiraiâ€™s party through its lawyer Alec Muchadehama was yesterday expected to file an urgent High Court application claiming that Mugabe, using the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the Registrar-Generalâ€™s Office and the Reserve Bank had put in motion a process that could secure the outcome for the incumbent.
The opposition said the polls would be rigged through computerised manipulation of the votersâ€™ roll.
The MDC said Zanu PF would also use the RBZ under the guise of paying for polling officers to bribe the oppositionâ€™s agents and had since militarised the elections by deploying the army throughout the country.
Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, told journalists in the capital yesterday that as part of the rigging process, the ZEC had reduced the number of polling stations throughout the country from the 11 000 the commission initially announced to 8 500.Â
More polling stations were designated in the rural areas compared to the urban centres.
As a result, Biti said, an urban voter would need 6,1 seconds to vote, while a rural one will require 9,2 seconds.
â€œThere is a disproportionate deliberate allocation of polling stations,â€ Biti said. â€œIn rural areas there will be complete adequacy of voting time, while in urban areas it is not going to be adequate.â€
The MDC, he said, had appealed for more polling stations, â€œbut after we asked for bread we were given a black mambaâ€.
Biti claimed that apart from the known polling stations, the ZEC intended to establish shadowy stations like mobile ones, which would present a â€œlogistical nightmareâ€ for the opposition. Turning to the votersâ€™ roll, Biti said the ZEC had contravened the Electoral Act by failing to make available to the MDC a hard copy of the roll.
â€œIt is the ZEC that is obliged to give us the hard copy not (the Registrar General) Tobaiwa Mudede. It is clear to us that the ZEC is not running this election,â€ Biti claimed. â€œMudede is an amalgam of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and President Mugabe.â€
Biti said the ZEC provided the MDC with an electronic version of the votersâ€™ roll, but it was not â€œdata-based, window-based and cannot be analysedâ€ because of the software used, JPEG.
â€œThe electronic version is like a musical disc â€” Michael Jacksonâ€™s album, Thriller, track number 1, Bad. You cannot breakdown the CD and analyse it,â€ Biti said.
He, however, claimed that the MDC experts managed to â€œcrackâ€ the electronic voters roll and discovered shocking rigging at play.
An Israeli company, Nirkuv Project Ltd, with links to the countryâ€™s spy agency Mossad, Biti claimed, compiled the electronic voters roll.
He claimed that the opposition partyâ€™s experts discovered that in Harare North constituency alone, 65% of registered voters are found in one ward and in that ward, 60% are registered by the ZEC under a single block (an electoral usage for voting areas), 81063.
Over 8 000 people are registered under the block and there are no buildings.
â€œPhysically its an open ground in Hatclife and there are various stands pegged on the ground and at stand number 10108 there is a little shack where the ZEC claims 75 registered voters reside there. Fifty of them are females,â€ Biti said.
Last week, it was reported that the votersâ€™ roll still had the names of long-dead people on it, among them the late former Law and Order minister during the Rhodesian era, Desmond Lardner-Burke, who was born in 1908. His name was found on a ward votersâ€™ roll for Mt Pleasant.The ZEC also stands accused of failing to consult political parties before it delimitated constituencies as required by law.
The MDC also questioned why the ZEC had not produced a consolidated votersâ€™ roll after the extended voter registration exercise ended on February 13.
â€œWe should have a consolidated votersâ€™ roll by now. We do not want to have a supplementary votersâ€™ roll. No one is aware of how many people registered after the exercise was extended to February 13,â€ Biti said.
His party queried the ZEC figures that Zimbabwe had 5,9 million registered voters, saying initially they were informed that there were 4,2 million voters and later 5,2 million, before it changed again.
Biti said the ZEC had printed and distributed to all provinces 8,8 million presidential papers in a clear move meant to rig the poll.
â€œYou canâ€™t print close to nine million ballot papers when you claim to have 5,9 million voters even if you assume that there is a margin of error. Normally the margin of error should be less than 5%,â€ Biti charged. â€œWe believe there are 4,2 million voters and if you add the extra three million ballots papers added by the ZEC, the margin of error goes up to over 90%.â€
As a result of the manipulation, Biti said, Mugabe and Zanu PF would win.
â€œOur experts have told us Mugabe will have an artificial majority of 58% if his rigging process succeeds,â€ Biti said.
The lawyer declined to explain how the party arrived at its votersâ€™ roll figure and the percentage of votes Mugabe would win. He said the RBZ had become the fifth pillar of stealing the elections.
â€œThere are Mossad agents here being paid by the RBZ,â€ Biti charged.
â€œThe RBZ has deployed 400 of its workers throughout the country to purportedly pay polling officers. We are aware that the central bank wants to pay opposition polling agents $20 billion each to be on the side of Mugabe and Zanu PF.â€
During the press conference Biti produced a letter purportedly written by a police officer detailing how they are intimidated into voting for Mugabe through postal voting.
The letter read: â€œâ€¦during postal voting our envelopes (with ballot papers) come to us with our force numbers on them. Only a fool will vote freely because we all know what will happen if you vote for someone not wanted by the bosses. The voting does not take place in a secret place, but in the presence of the (police) chief clerk.â€
Biti said despite the alleged rigging, the MDC would participate in the polls and was confident that 95% of Zimbabweans would vote for it.