Another dispute has erupted between the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF over the composition of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission secretariat ahead of elections the president insists should be held next year.
The Tsvangirai MDC charges that ZANU-PF has loaded the secretariat staff with members of the Central Intelligence Organization, the military and the national police.
"The MDC calls on ZEC to cleanse itself of the ZANU-PF mess, reassert its credibility and perform its constitutional functions in line with expected universal norms and standards in the conduct of elections," an MDC statement said. "Mugabe always manipulates the elections through ZEC and the military, in broad daylight."
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a ZANU-PF heavyweight, responded with advertisements in the state-controlled, pro-ZANU-PF Herald paper declaring that "labor laws do not allow any employee to be engaged by two companies or organizations at the same time and be double salaried.” MDC sources in turn threatened to publish the names of security agency officials working for the supposedly reformed commission.
Tsvangirai MDC Spokesman Nelson Chamisa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the commission must be cleansed. He said he was surprised that Chinamasa was "crying more than the bereaved by rushing to defend [the Electoral Commission] which is supposed to be an independent body."
The commission's predecessor, also called the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, was widely criticized for withholding the results of the first round of the 2008 presidential election for more than a month, and was suspected by some of tampering with ballots or counts to deprive opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of a first-round majority.
ZANU-PF Spokesman Rugare Gumbo called the MDC charges "hogwash and propaganda."