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Tendai Biti on Zimbabwe's elections preparedness

11 Jul 2013 at 12:50hrs | Views
In light of the SADC Maputo resolutions, which directed that Zimbabwe implements key reforms especially on media, security sector and legislative before elections, Zanu-PF has blatantly disregarded the SADC call.

One of the key reforms as resolved by the regional body was media reforms particularly emphasising on the need to re-establish the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust (ZMMT) and the appointment of a new Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) board. It is public knowledge now that this has not been implemented in clear defiance of SADC.

On security sector reforms, SADC directed that security chiefs to issue out a statement stating that they will not make political statements and take an obligation to sign a code of conduct in terms of Section 208 of the new Constitution. That statement has not been made and there has not been any political indication that this will happen before the elections.

It must be noted that 50 percent of the candidates in the Zanu-PF primary elections were serving members of the country's security establishment with a third of them now set to represent the party during the coming elections.

SADC resolved that we should have during the last Parliament realigned some of our laws in the new Constitution with parliamentary laws.

Among these is the new Provincial Government Act, which is not covered in both the Urban and Rural Council Acts. There was need to repeal other laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), Access to Information and Public Protection Act (AIPPA), the draconian Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

Further, Mugabe used a decree to enact the Electoral Act when we still had enough time to get it through Parliament and SADC urged us to do the same and before the expiry of the last Parliament when we still had two weeks within which to have done this and once again our friends in Zanu-PF disregarded this.

Therefore, it is clear that without reviewing these laws, Zimbabwe is actually being forced to go into an illegal election.

SADC directed that the government should file an application at the Constitutional Court seeking an extension of the election but no such application was made by the Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa as his application was defective.

It is clear therefore that Zanu-PF has brought the chaos within its ranks into the government system and now seeks to railroad Zimbabweans into another sham election. They have ignored international laws and dictates hence it is now incumbent upon SADC to review whether Zimbabwe can hold credible, free and fair elections.

Voters' roll

The intensive mobile voter registration exercise has become a major theatre of shenanigans. In 2008, Zanu-PF used violence and it has gone a step further and has now resorted to the use of keyboards and computers to rig the coming elections.

Thousands of Zimbabweans were disenfranchised during the voter registration exercise as they were not informed of where the centres were while officials at the centres were on a go slow and countless of prospective voters failed to register.

In Harare alone over 300 000 people failed to register. In areas, which are falsely perceived to be Zanu-PF strongholds, high numbers of people registering were recorded. In Harare only 27 000 voters were registered while 57 000 were registered in Mashonaland West and 60 000 in Mashonaland East. Harare province had only five teams to conduct voter registration while Mashonaland East had 18.

One striking and mysterious scenario has been that some constituencies in Harare have actually recorded decreases in the number of persons on the voters' roll. Dzivarasekwa is an example. In 2008 there were 38 000 voters and that number has decreased to 22 000.

Last week, in a meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the Registrar General of Voters, Tobaiwa Mudede asked for a further US$1 million to redo Harare, funds which were disbursed by the Treasury but nothing was done. It is therefore a logical thing to extend voter registration to next week Friday and I hope wisdom will prevail.

The numbers of people who have never registered to vote and are finding themselves on the voters' roll are increasing. Others in a particular ward have been transferred without their permission to another ward.

At the epicentre of this is a notorious Israeli company called Nikuv, which operates a drip irrigation company, called Third Stock and we are taking steps to establish its legal status and how they came to be working with the RGV. I can safely say there were not awarded a tender by the State Procurement Board and the RGV is only a department under the Ministry of Home Affairs that cannot award tenders.

Special voting

ZEC is going through the process of special voting. However, figures show that 69 000 police officers applied for special voting when the country only has about 40 000 police officers.

As Treasury, I can tell you we are not paying 69 000 police officers, it is almost double those on the country's payroll which is something questionable. The special voting vetting exercise is taking place at the Harare International Conference Centre and the place is heavily militarised with the police and the army doing the processing.

It is unacceptable and it is something that we have brought to the attention of ZEC.

Postal voting

There are 120 000 people registered for postal voting and these are Zimbabweans stationed outside the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not have a staggering 120 000 diplomats stationed at its foreign missions.

In the 2008 elections there were only 5 000 applications for postal voting.

Violations

Violations and violence are on the increase in our country since the MDC's loud red that was seen in Marondera on Sunday. The chaos faction in Zanu-PF is trying to reignite and remobilise the arsenal of violence and we can see a deliberate attempt to decimate the MDC leadership.

They want to freeze Solomon Madzore and lock him up for the umpteenth time as they try to cripple the MDC Youth Assembly because of their ability to organise. The incidences are endless.

However, not withstanding all these shenanigans, the MDC has hit the road running. Our MPs and councillors are campaigning while President Tsvangirai is holding provincial rallies daily.

We have no doubt in our minds that the people of Zimbabwe are ready for real change and on 31 July there will be that change.

Source - Tendai Biti
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