Minister, Charamba exchanges stir up poll fraud claims

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba has re-ignited suspicions that the 2013 general elections were rigged in his heated exchange with War Veterans minister Chris Mutsvangwa via WhatsApp messages.

Wongai Zhangazha

Charamba and Mutsvangwa clashed days after President Robert Mugabe embarrassingly read a wrong speech during the official opening of parliament in September.

During the prolonged slanging match, where the two traded insults, Charamba curiously asked Mutsvangwa, also a Zanu PF politburo member and Norton MP, if he knew how the July 2013 elections were won. Charamba, in turn, also asked the minister if he was even aware of how he won his Norton seat.

“… Do you even know how you ended up in parliament, and a minister? Unoziva kuti 2013 yakauya sei? (Do you know how the 2013 elections were won?)” asked Charamba.

To which Mutsvangwa replied: “2013 yakauya sei?” (Explain how the 2013 general elections were won?).

The 2013 elections were marred by allegations of systematic rigging, disenfranchisement of voters, a chaotic voter registration exercise and use of an outdated voters’ roll, among other irregularities.

Mugabe won the disputed election with 2 110 434 (61,09%) votes, while MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai followed with 1 172 349 (33,94%) votes. Zanu PF also secured a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Opposition parties and civil society members insist the elections were rigged.

Ahead of the elections, the Zimbabwe Independent exclusively revealed that an Israeli company, Nikuv International Projects, which deals with voters’ registration and elections results, had been hired to doctor election results.

Nikuv was working with Registrar-General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede’s office to compile the voters’ roll and was paid in excess of US$10,5 million between February and July though the RG’s Office’s FBC account.

In February Mudede paid US$1 600 000 before making a further US$1 580 890 in March and US$1 853 100 in April.
He also paid US$1 756 475 in May, another US$1 405 200 in June and US$2 383 670 in July, bringing the total amount paid a day before elections to the company to US$10 578 335.

The account was said to be classified as “highly confidential” at the bank and senior employees were made to sign a “confidentiality clause” around it as it was considered “sensitive”.

When Mudede was asked by the Independent in August 2013 at his offices in Harare to clarify the shady payments, he said: “The Registrar-General’s Department does not handle such matters through the press.”

A day before the elections, Nikuv founder and CEO Emmanuel Antebi, in the company of his deputy Ammon Peer, met Mugabe and then defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, then transport minister (former state security) Nicholas Goche and Central Intelligence Organisations deputy director Aaron Nhepera for an hour-and-half at State House.

In its election report titled The End of the Road: The Zimbabwe 2013 Elections Solidarity Peace Trust said the “leap in one million votes for Zanu PF was hard to explain between 2008 and 2013, “it is more believable when seen (only) as 27% higher than their 2002 vote”.

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