Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai has dismissed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s remarks that the country will hold free and fair elections this year, saying the current electoral environment is not conducive for transparency.
In a statement, the MDC-T said, “Whilst the Mnangagwa administration has been persistently stating that this year’s elections will be free and fair, the situation that obtains on the ground points to a totally different scenario. For instance, in virtually all the country’s rural areas, people have been forced to surrender the serial numbers of their biometric voter registration slips to their local village heads and Zanu PF officials.
“This has been a systematic campaign of psychological and emotional terror meant to instil fear in the rural electorate so that they are compelled to vote for Zanu PF in the forthcoming elections. This psychological terror campaign has now reached the cities because in certain parts of Highfield and Hopley in the capital city, Harare, Zanu PF officials have embarked on a door to door campaign forcing people to surrender serial numbers of their voter registration slips. Needless to state, this reprehensible and unlawful practice can never be consistent with a desire to conduct a free and fair election.”
The MDC and other concerned stakeholders have informed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission about the issue “and we sincerely hope and trust that ZEC will do whatever it takes to make sure that all electoral malpractices are completely eliminated in time for the elections.
“No rocket science is needed to ascertain that Zanu PF is smelling a humiliating and crushing electoral defeat in this year’s harmonised elections and as such, the Mnangagwa administration is literally clutching at straws; desperately trying to unfairly tilt the electoral playing field in its favour.
“The MDC calls upon the gallant and heroic people of Zimbabwe to roundly reject and ignore these desperate shenanigans that the beleaguered Mnangagwa administration is resorting to. The people’s vote is secret and indeed, the illegal practice of forcibly recording the serial numbers of voters’ registration slips should be resisted by all lawful means necessary.”
The party further claimed that there were some soldiers in civilian attire that have been deployed to all rural districts of Zimbabwe to campaign “for the deeply unpopular and incorrigibly factionalised Zanu PF party.
“These soldiers are also embarking on clandestine operations meant to hoodwink the local people into believing that they are innocent members of non – governmental organisations who have been sent to drill boreholes in certain rural districts such as Nkayi South and Nkayi North.”
The MDC also claimed that traditional leaders are also being abused to make them operate as de facto Zanu PF political commissars in their respective areas of jurisdiction.
“The MDC has always respected traditional leaders and we have always held them in very high esteem. We would like to call upon Zanu PF to leave our traditional leaders alone so that they can continue to peacefully carry out their duties as the custodians of our cultural traditions and values.
“We will continue to call for the opening up of the country’s State –owned print and electronic media to all political players; in tandem with the dictates of the supreme law of the land. As such, we expect Zimpapers and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation to immediately stop to operate as if they are Zanu PF’ sole and exclusive propaganda mouthpieces.”
There was no immediate reaction from ZEC and state officials.