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16 Aug 2013 00:00
The courts will this week hear Morgan Tsvangirai’s challenge to the election results. (Clarissa Sosin,M&G)
If President Robert Mugabe attends the Southern African Development Community summit in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe on Saturday, he will not attend as an official head of state.
Mugabe’s inauguration ceremony is on ice until MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Constitutional Court application seeking the nullification of the July 31 elections is heard.
Tsvangirai’s case, which will be heard on Saturday, also seeks to compel the holding of fresh elections within 60 days.
In his accompanying affidavit Tsvangirai said that Mugabe, who is cited as the first respondent, was not duly elected “owing to the numerous corrupt and illegal practices and other electoral malpractices”.
Tsvangirai also argued that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had failed to discharge its constitutional duty of managing and supervising the conduct of a credible, efficient, transparent, free and fair election.
Tsvangirai is challenging the outcome of the polls on 15 grounds. He will also present the same reasons to the SADC heads of state summit this weekend.
Breach of Constitution
Tsvangirai said Mugabe wrote him a letter on June 13 advising him of the proclamation of election dates, which he carried out the same day.
Mugabe also amended the Electoral Act using the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act.
Tsvangirai said the amendment of the Electoral Act violated the Constitution because electoral amendments can only be undertaken by Parliament.
Restrictive voter registration
Tsvangirai said thousands of people were unable to register as a result of the ZEC’s inefficiency and the limited time provided for the exercise.
In a dossier accompanying the application, Tsvangirai said although the voting rights of “aliens” were restored under the new Constitution, most were unable to register.
“The distribution of mobile voter registration teams was carefully manipulated to frustrate registration of voters in known MDC strongholds. For example, Mashonaland East, which has a population of 1 337 059 and is a Zanu-PF stronghold based on the results of the 2008 elections, had 18 teams while Harare, which has a total population of 2 098 199 and is an MDC stronghold, only had five teams,” said Tsvangirai.
Voters’ roll unavailability
Tsvangirai said the ZEC failed or refused to provide an electronic copy of the voters’ roll in “a searchable and analysable form”.
“Despite several pleas for the voters’ roll, a hard copy was only delivered late on polling day, just a couple of hours before the polls closed. I am advised and believe that failure to [make] the voters’ roll [available] is not only a serious violation of the Electoral Act but is so fundamental a breach that it undermines the credibility of the entire election,” he said.
Tsvangirai said 870 000 names were duplicated on the voters’ roll. He provided the court with a sample of the voters’ roll as of June 19, which shows evidence of duplication.
In some cases that Tsvangirai cites, there were minute but important differences. In one case a Clara Jokonya, born on October 4 1990, of Yemurai Village in Mount Darwin, is registered in Mount Darwin under two different national identity numbers but all her other details are the same, including her ward and residential address.
Special voting abuse
He said the special voting system allowed service personnel to vote more than once during the election, thereby inflating figures. He added that there was no credible way of ensuring that those who voted on special voting days did not vote again on July 31.
“To make matters worse, the number of police officers that were issued with special voting certificates by the ZEC was inflated. Records at the ministry of home affairs and [the] treasury show that Zimbabwe has a police force of 38 000, but [the] ZEC issued over 60 000 certificates to the police. This was a deliberate ploy to manipulate the process through ballot stuffing,” he said.
Tsvangirai said the ZEC had failed to account for the number of ballots used on special voting days.
Postal ballot irregularities
Tsvangirai said the chief elections officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi, who is the fourth respondent, released postal ballots to the foreign affairs ministry on July 17, a few hours before the legal deadline to receive the ballots.
He said it is not plausible that any postal votes were returned in accordance with the legal deadline, although postal ballots were used in the election.
Tsvangirai said, although several observer missions declared the elections peaceful, voters were intimidated.
He listed a number of cases, including one in Rushinga, in which Zanu-PF candidate Wonder Mashange allegedly called villagers and village heads to a meeting on July 28 and 29 and threatened them with death if Zanu-PF lost.
Voting under duress
Tsvangirai argued that thousands of voters, especially in rural areas, were forced to declare they were illiterate so that they could be helped to vote by Zanu-PF supporters.
He said he will produce evidence that traditional leaders commandeered people under their jurisdiction to vote at specific times and declare illiteracy so that they could be assisted to vote.
“I am advised that, in one constituency alone, at least 10 500 voters out of 17 000 who cast their ballots were assisted,” he said.
Tsvangirai said he could prove that in some cases even teachers had professed to be illiterate.
“In ward 15 (Rushinga), Mr Gatsi, a woodwork teacher at Marymount Secondary School, and Mr Zondo, the chairperson of the school development committee, were assisted to vote,” according to the dossier.
Voters turned away
Tsvangirai said thousands of voters were turned away from polling stations after their names appeared in wards or constituencies in which they do not reside.
“As will be shown when evidence is adduced, voters who believed they were registered in a Harare ward found their names in a ward in rural Matabeleland, too far for them to travel on polling day even if they wanted to do so,” said Tsvangirai.
Voter registration slips
Tsvangirai said people whose names did not appear on the voters’ roll but who had registration slips were allowed to vote, although this was unconstitutional as the law specifies that only those on the roll may vote.
In addition, he said the registration slips were abused and in one constituency, Hatfield, 500 people were found to have fake registration slips.
Tsvangirai also raised “grave concerns over the indelibility of the ink” that was used on polling day, saying its chemical composition did not meet the necessary internationally recognised standards as it could be easily washed off.
Busing in of voters
Tsvangirai also claimed that voters were bused in to targeted constituencies, where they had used the fraudulent voter registration slips.
“In some cases, parallel polling stations were created for the bused voters and our election agents did not observe these. In the case of Mount Pleasant, for instance, a parallel station was created on Churchill Road where thousands of so-called police recruits voted,” reads the dossier.
Tsvangirai said he has video evidence showing that people from as far as Honde Valley in Manicaland were brought in to vote in Harare’s Mount Pleasant suburb.
Tsvangirai said the Electoral Act requires the ZEC to be transparent with regard to ballot papers, but the electoral body failed to provide details on who printed the ballot papers and how they were distributed.
The ZEC, he claimed, printed two million ballot papers – more than the number of people on the voters’ roll – which is an extra 35%, compared with the accepted global standard of 5%.
Tsvangirai alleged that Mugabe and his wife, Grace, bribed the electorate by doling out food and other goodies at rallies, in breach of the Electoral Act and the code of conduct signed by the parties.
An example he cited was that, in Mashonaland Central, Grace Mugabe gave out 22 tonnes of foodstuffs at a rally and at Rudhaka Stadium, she dished out 10 tonnes of mealie meal, 10 tonnes of sugar beans and 560 cases of cooking oil and salt.
State media bias
Tsvangirai said that the state media were not balanced during the election period, as is required by the Constitution and the Electoral Act. He said that Zanu-PF’s rallies were given live coverage, but there was no such coverage for other parties.
The MDC-T is claiming that traditional leaders were actively involved in politics, in violation of the Constitution, which forbids them to be members of any political party, participate in politics or further the interests of any party.
In Masvingo, Tsvangirai said that Chief Chitsa banned MDC-T door-to-door campaigns and Chief Nhema campaigned for Zanu-PF.
He alleged that, in Muzarabani, Chief Chiweshe threatened to evict everyone who voted for the MDC in his area and, in Mashonaland East, Chief Chigwedere warned people that the 2008 violence would be repeated if they voted for the MDC.
The MDC-T said there was a heavy presence of police officers at polling stations, in violation of the Electoral Act.
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