Harare — Zimbabwe’s main opposition coalition will participate in Monday’s general election under protest.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance says there is no guarantee that a credible poll will be held on July 30, and have promised to march against an “illegitimate government” if the ruling party wins.
Spokesperson Welshman Ncube said their main concerns revolve around the design of the ballot paper, and alleged bias on the part of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). In addition, he claims that the ZEC has not provided the opposition with a final copy of the voters roll.
“We still don’t have a final copy of the voters roll that will be used on voting day. In other countries, on the day an election is proclaimed, the voters roll would be ready and complete. Here ZEC is saying it would be ready by Friday. This is a recipe for disaster,” he said.
Ncube said there is a real possibility that some people may not find their names or may be registered in the wrong place, but there would be no time for corrections.
A report by civil society organisation Team Pachedu released earlier this month concluded that more than 250 000 entries in the voters roll were “irregular”, and that these could compromise the integrity of the vote.
“All of a sudden you have voters not known by neighbours. You have a lot of people using the same address. In Bulawayo East for example you barely have 100 households but you have 3 000 registered voters, which is an attempt to import people from other wards. We have raised this but it has not been addressed,” said Ncube.
The design of the ballot paper has been controversial because it appears to flout Zimbabwe’s Constitution, which specifies that candidates must be listed in alphabetical order. Instead, the order is random, allowing ruling party candidate and current president Emmerson Mnangagwa to appear at the top of the right hand column.
“The ballot paper is a fraudulent one. According to the law, the names of the candidates must be in alphabetical order. Mnangagwa is at the top without any explanation at all. It proves beyond any shadow of doubt that it is designed to give him an advantage,” said Ncube. “Whether it does give him an advantage or not is neither here nor there. What it proves is that ZEC is biased in favour of Zanu-PF and cannot be trusted to deliver a credible election.”
A recent opinion poll conducted by Afrobarometer found that although Mnangagwa remains the favourite, the gap between him and MDC Alliance candidate Nelson Chamisa has narrowed dramatically, meaning that even minor irregularities may impact the outcome of the vote.
“If Chamisa loses under these circumstances, our people will continue to pray for change and march against an illegitimate government. We reserve the right to mobilise our people to march until they get a government born out of the free will of the people,” said Ncube.
The ZEC has rejected claims of irregularities, and promised to guarantee the secrecy of the vote. “My assurance to this audience is that the secrecy of the vote will not be compromised. My own personal opinion is that the question of the secrecy of the vote is non-negotiable. That is the assurance that I am giving to the international community and that is the assurance that I am giving to the good people of Zimbabwe,” said ZEC deputy chair Emmanuel Magade, speaking to journalists on Monday.