HomeAnalysisChiwundura by-election exposes ugly underbelly

Chiwundura by-election exposes ugly underbelly

Securocrats often boast that most Zanu PF politicians have no clue as to how the party won the 2013 elections.

Candid Comment,Brezhnev Malaba

Although there is a common thread running through all elections in this country since 1980, these particular elections were unique in that, for the first time, the military took full charge of the political structures of the ruling party in a manner that had never been witnessed before.

Zanu PF factional strife had become so intractable that the only way to forestall a repeat of President Robert Mugabe’s 2008 humiliation at the ballot box was to dump the factionalists and put the soldiers firmly in charge of the troubled party’s election campaign. The military pulled out all the stops, delivering victory by hook or by crook.

But Zanu PF members are not the only ones who still don’t know how the 2013 elections were won. The opposition has no clue as to how the election was lost. When you talk to opposition functionaries, they tell you “Zanu PF rigged the 2013 elections”, but they cannot explain exactly how this was done.

Well, elections are not rocket science. If you really want to understand what happens, you have to see the process from a systems approach. There are essentially three segments to a typical election: proclamation, nomination and polling. Anyone who thinks elections in Africa are still rigged on polling day at the ballot box — in other words via the primitive trick of ballot stuffing — is yet to properly comprehend electoral contests.

Ask yourself why Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede has not publicly availed an electronic copy of the 2013 voters’ roll. Surely, if there was nothing to hide, he would have allowed Zimbabweans to subject the voters’ roll to public scrutiny. After all, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

The Chiwundura National Assembly by-election on July 15 has given the nation a glimpse into Zimbabwe’s scandalously compromised electoral process.

How can anyone defend the shocking anomalies detected in the voters’ roll? The credibility of next year’s elections is at stake. Let’s be serious, the last headache Zimbabwe needs is another shambolic poll.

Two non-governmental organisations, the Election Resource Centre and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, have unearthed what is turning out to be unassailable evidence of electoral fraud. The records of 724 voters bore similar first names, surnames, gender, date of birth, but had different ID numbers and in most cases at different polling stations. There is also a revelation that 863 people are registered more than once and appear in different polling stations, there are 132 voters with national identity card numbers that are invalid and 218 voters with ID numbers that have a suffix that does not conform to the National Registration Act.

Lest we forget, one of the rallying cries of the armed liberation struggle against racist colonial rule was “one man, one vote”. Today, the electoral process has reduced Zimbabweans to unthinking zombies. We keep plunging into the same electoral imbroglio every few years — while expecting a credible outcome. Is there a better definition of national insanity?

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