HomeCommentCandid comment: Chiefs must stop being agents of electoral theft

Candid comment: Chiefs must stop being agents of electoral theft

THOUGH reprehensible, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s outrageous utterances last weekend warning rural folk his party has devised a system where traditional leaders (chiefs), ward chairpersons and councillors would closely monitor them to ensure they voted for Zanu PF candidates — including his wife — in imminent by-elections were revealing.

By Stewart Chabwinja

At the launch of his wife Auxillia’s poll campaign for the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe constituency, Mnangagwa, increasingly debunking the notion he would break from the Zanu PF mould to become a reformist leader, warned that those who failed to vote for his party would be excluded from government programmes — and went so far as to suggest non- Zanu PF supporters should be denied suffrage.

“We know that each polling station has its own results, we will want to know from each polling station where the people would have come from and how did they get in,” he intoned.

“What we might fail to know is how death will come, but anyone who is voting we can trace the pattern.

Mnangagwa requested all wards in the by-election area to go to the polls with the headman in front, district chairman following behind with the people and the councillor in tow … “(So) we can tell if they (voters) are for us or not with us and those who are not ours we will fence them out,” he threatened.

This is blatant intimidation of voters and a violation of the country’s electoral laws by a party which believes it is ordained to rule perpetually due to its “liberation war credentials”.

Such crude tactics, hardly new for striking fear into the hearts of the electorate, remains a poll weapon of choice for Zanu PF whose governance record, especially on the economic front, is felony-grade.

Mnangagwa’s comments are a clear signal that the 2018 elections, as has become tradition, will not be free and fair unless there is a seismic shift in Zanu PF’s electoral modus operandi and comprehensive reforms.

They also confirm chiefs continue to be at Zanu PF’s beck and call — a vital cog in the party’s poll machinery which habitually subverts the rights and will of the people through rigging.

Unfortunately there appears little the splintered opposition and civil society can do about the poll mischief except to frequently make the right noses — which in all fairness they have only for Zanu PF to contemptuously dismiss legitimate concerns — in addition to sparingly implementing Sadc poll guidelines.

Poll boycotts by an opposition enfeebled by multiple breakaways are unlikely move Zanu PF. The party has already indicated by-elections would go ahead on March 27 despite the Zimbabwe Election Commission, allegedly stuffed with pro-Zanu PF spies, failing to provide the electronic voters’ roll.

Chiefs, supposed custodians of the country’s moral and cultural mores, must cease to be agents of Zanu PF and shed the impression they are ensconced in the party’s patronage network. Mnangagwa’s shocking remarks show that elections will remain open to manipulation and theft.

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