The MDC-T and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has threatened to mobilise the opposition party’s supporters to picket at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) head office starting tomorrow until July 30 if the electoral management body fails to address their demands for transparency in the printing of ballot material by end of business today.
MDC Alliance co-principal Tendai Biti confirmed the development yesterday, saying they had started mobilising mobile toilets and tents for the thousands of opposition supporters expected to participate in the vigil.
“We will be leading from the front, we will be living on the streets. We are not going to allow this election to be stolen. They can kill us. We are prepared to die for free, fair and credible elections. We have given Zec a deadline and if they don’t address the issues raised in the petition by Monday, then we will be living on the streets,” Biti said.
“We have said this over and over again, there will be no voting. Some people talk about us boycotting the election, I don’t know where they get that. We are not boycotting, there will be no election.”
Addressing supporters at Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo yesterday, Chamisa insisted that there would be no elections if Zec does not meet his grouping’s key demands — transparency in the printing of the ballot papers and security of the votes.
“We have to agree on the ballot paper. We say no to a bond ballot, a fake ballot which is pre-determined, but we want a ballot that we all agree on. So Zec is joking when it says they have finished printing the ballot paper. We say to hell with that. We are going to the poll after agreeing on a proper ballot paper,” he said.
MDC-T deputy treasurer-general Charlton Hwende said they were planning to hire 500 mobile toilets for use during their protest at the Zec headquarters in downtown Harare.
“Companies renting mobile toilets, please get in touch urgently looking for 500 mobile toilets,” Hwende said in a Facebook post yesterday.
He also threatened to mobilise for disruption of elections at all the 10 895 polling stations on election day if Zec does not give in to their demands.
“If our demands are not met on the 30th of July at all the 11 000 polling stations (sic), no voting will take place.
The only election that will ever take place in Zimbabwe will be a free and fair one. 2013 was the last disputed election. Going forward, the (sic) vote of the people will count,” Hwende said.
This came amid reports that Zec had agreed to a meeting with the youthful opposition leader and other opposition parties, under the auspices of the multi-party liaison committee to iron out their differences.
“We respectfully advise that the full Zec has agreed that your requests are best dealt with at our multi-party liaison committee in order to build consensus with the other political parties that are going to the election,” Zec’s acting chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said in a recent letter to Chamisa’s chief election agent, Jameson Timba.
“In the absence of a legal framework to guide us on how best to accommodate your request, a consensus approach is the next best alternative.”
The MDC Alliance threats set a grand stage for civil unrest ahead of an election which is at the heart of Zimbabwe re-joining the international community of nations.
But Zanu PF deputy legal secretary Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana dismissed the opposition threats as “inconsequential”.
“Does the MDC have a country or they are just a political party that is in a country which has a government? They cannot tell this nation what it can and cannot do. They are one of the 55 political parties participating in an election. So where do they get the authority to do declarations as if they are the ruling party?” he asked rhetorically.
Mangwana said Zanu PF was not worried about the threats coming from the MDC Alliance.
“Whether they like it or not, there will be an election. If they disturb the election, the law and order sector will deal with them. As Zanu PF, we are not bothered at all, they can declare, they can talk all sorts of nonsense. After all, nobody has forced them to participate in an election. There is going to be an election in Zimbabwe and if the MDC wants to participate, they are free,” Mangwana said.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba had not responded to questions sent to her by the time of going to print last night.
The MDC Alliance is demanding that they test the quality and chemical composition of the ballot paper and they also wanted to observe the printing of the ballots.
Chamisa is also demanding that Zec releases a full biometric voters’ roll complete with pictures in searchable and analysable format, further to an external audit of the voters’ roll.
The opposition has drawn a red line on the ballot papers, especially its printing and designing, which it alleges favours Zanu PF candidate, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zec, on the other hand, has been dismissing the demands, saying they were not supported by the law and could, therefore, not be implemented.
Addressing the media on two different occasions, Chigumba said only an earthquake could stop the election from going ahead, and even if there were any errors on the voters’ roll, the polls would go ahead and those who had issues could approach the courts.
She added that Zec had the sole mandate at law of overseeing the designing of the ballot paper and its printing, and there was nowhere in the law that provides for anyone to view the printing of the ballot and help with its designing.
Chigumba said anyone seeking to do that would be compromising the independence of the commission and abusing the goodwill gesture of Zec to reach some form of consensus with the political parties.
Yesterday, MDC-T Harare provincial chairman Erick Murayi announced that the party had tabled its final rally before the elections at the giant National Sports Stadium on July 28.
Speaking at a rally in Glen View South to garner support for the party’s candidate for the constituency Vimbayi Tsvangirai-Java, Murayi called on the hundreds of supporters in attendance to exhibit the same spirit for the mega rally at the multipurpose National Sports Stadium, which has a carrying capacity of 60 000 people.
“We thank you for coming in your numbers and we want to tell you that on July 28, we shall have our final rally at the National Sports Stadium and we want you to come in your numbers again,” he said.
Chamisa’s countrywide rallies since he took over the leadership of the MDC-T after the death of its founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, this year, have received impressive attendance.
Tsvangirai-Java, who is Tsvangirai’s first daughter, gave a short speech in which she baited on her father’s legacy to try and lure votes for her candidature in the coming polls.
“I come before you as the first daughter of the late Morgan and Susan Tsvangirai and I am here to carry forward the legacy of my father,” she said.
“The democratic struggle of my father will continue and as Glen View, let’s do that, which will lead to the fulfilment of Morgan’s wishes in 2018 by giving Chamisa a resounding victory,” she continued.
Tsvangirai-Java allayed the embedded fears within the opposition electorate that soldiers might deny recognising victory for Chamisa ahead of Mnangagwa, saying soldiers also played a part in the march that removed Mugabe last year.
“Some are saying soldiers will not give us power because the elections are already rigged, but I say, yes, they will give us power because they marched with us in November last year, and when Chamisa wins, they will recognise his power so let’s go and vote in our numbers,” she said.