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Zimbabwe Opposition Alleges Plan to Skew Election


Members of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance are planning to protest July 25, 2018, in Harare to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to give in to their demands. Here, protesters accuse the elections body of plotting to rig the vote for the ruling Zanu PF party, July 11, 2018. (S. Mhofu/VOA)

Zimbabwe's main opposition party has accused the country's electoral commission of planning a "manipulated" general election on July 30.

The Movement for Democratic Change Alliance spoke out Tuesday after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission turned down several of its demands for changes to procedures in the presidential election.

Among the changes sought was a redesign of the presidential ballot, which the opposition says gives an unfair advantage to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The chief election officer for the MDC Alliance, Jameson Timba, spoke to VOA after meeting with the electoral commission.

Jameson Timba, the chief election agent for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance in Harare, says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is committed to preside over "manipulated" polls. (S. Mhofu/VOA)
Jameson Timba, the chief election agent for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance in Harare, says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is committed to preside over "manipulated" polls. (S. Mhofu/VOA)

"The outcome of the meeting is a confirmation that President Mnangagwa and ZEC are committed to a peaceful but manipulated election," he said. "All the issues that we had put before ZEC have all been turned down. So that is where we stand right now."

The opposition also wanted to escort ballots to polling stations, guard them and be allowed to test if votes migrated to Mnangagwa.

The spokesman for the electoral commission, Qhubani Moyo, confirmed the Tuesday meeting but dismissed opposition demands.

Qhubani Moyo of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in Harare says his organization has met all reasonable and practical demands by the opposition to ensure free and fair polls. June 24, 2018 (S. Mhofu/VOA)
Qhubani Moyo of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in Harare says his organization has met all reasonable and practical demands by the opposition to ensure free and fair polls. June 24, 2018 (S. Mhofu/VOA)

He said, "All practical demands were met, or accepted. No other concessions will be made. It is now a closed chapter."

The MDC Alliance said failure to reach an agreement would be met with vigils held at the commission's offices.

However, police on Tuesday denied an MDC Alliance request to demonstrate. The opposition had written to police seeking clearance and an escort for a Wednesday demonstration.

Tawanda Chimhini, director of the Election Resource Center, a think tank and advocacy organization on electoral and democracy issues in Zimbabwe, questioned the commission's assurance that the election would be free and fair.

Tawanda Chimhini, the head of Election Resource Center in Harare, says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must give observers and political parties the voters roll ahead of the polling day. (S. Mhofu/VOA)
Tawanda Chimhini, the head of Election Resource Center in Harare, says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must give observers and political parties the voters roll ahead of the polling day. (S. Mhofu/VOA)

"We are not yet out of the woods yet. It is important that the finalization of the voters roll is characterized by strict mechanisms of transparent and accountability," he said. "The roll that will be used on the day must be availed to observers and agents so that as voting is happening, there is an independent verification of people voting."

Zimbabwe's elections body is facing several lawsuits aimed at making it release the voters roll ahead of the election.

The Movement for Democratic Change Alliance plans to meet Wednesday to discuss a way forward on its demands.

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