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Drama in Parliament over 'coup government' comment

by Staff reporter
09 May 2018 at 07:23hrs | Views
There was drama in the National Assembly yesterday after fuming opposition legislators labelled President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration a "coup government" after Zanu-PF legislators rejected a demand by the opposition to have the firm printing the ballot paper agreed to by all contesting parties.

The MDC also wants an audit of the quality of the ballot paper and assert this is absolutely important because it is the avenue through which previous polls have allegedly been stolen.

MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese opened the debate by suggesting that all political parties agree on who should print the ballot papers.

"The commission must call for a competent tender. All parties must agree on who is going to print ballot papers. By doing this, we are going to put to rest all suspicions. There has been talk of Nikuv, we want undisputed elections," Gonese said.

Justice and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi rejected Gonese's proposal outright.

"I reject that, we have procedures of procurement, we have laws, we cannot divert from that. It doesn't matter where the ballot papers are printed because on the voting day, everyone will be there and they will be no room of any manipulation and I totally reject that," Ziyambi said.

MDC legislators Dorcas Sibanda (Bulawayo Central) and Eddie Cross (Bulawayo South) also weighed in, asserting credible elections will be possible by transparent printing of ballot papers.

After Cross' sentiments, other Zanu-PF MPs who include Joseph Chinotimba (Buhera South), Remigious Matangira (Bindura South), and Obedingwa Mguni (Mangwe) supported the rejection of consensus in the printing of ballot papers

This did not go down well with MDC MP for Binga North Prince Dubeko Sibanda who then labelled Mnangagwa a "serial loser."

"What do you fear? You fear that Ngwena (Mnangagwa's nickname) will lose like what happened to him in Kwekwe? I tell you, if you don't want the transparent printing of ballot papers, there will be no election because you can't talk about Zimbabwe elections without MDC-T. If you want to continue with your coup government reject our proposal," Sibanda fumed.

Sibanda was then ejected from the House amid mounting resistance from the opposition MPs. Sibanda was heard shouting "you are a coup government; I cannot listen to a coup government."

Zanu-PF also rejected amendments to the Electoral Act proposed by the opposition MDC to ensure that assisted voters are identified before voting day to curb intimidation of the electorate.

Ziyambi also shot down Gonese's proposal that a clause be inserted in the Electoral Act that makes it mandatory that prospective voters who would require assistance on voting be identified and listed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) upon registration.

"This is meant to curb the mischief of intimidation of voters because we have seen in the past situations where people were intimidated into declaring illiteracy when they are literate so I propose that a clause be inserted to that effect," Gonese said.

This comes amid concerns that some of the rural voters such as teachers are clearly instructed to tell presiding officers that they were functionally illiterate, so that the police could monitor their choices while pretending to give assistance.

Ziyambi said: "My position on that is let us reject the proposal because circumstances tend to change for example one might be disabled today and declares that he wants to be assisted only to have been healed by the time of voting and similarly someone might be illiterate today but then gets some education and becomes literate by the time of voting when their names have been listed as voters requiring assistance and that becomes a cumbersome process."

The country is set to hold harmonised elections by August this year when the term of the Eighth Parliament expires amid calls by the MDC for a raft of amendments to the Electoral Act to ensure free, fair and credible elections.

On his part, Mnangagwa has pledged to ensure that the elections are held in line with the dictates of the Sadc guidelines and international best practices.

Source - Daily News