Chamisa in all-out war with Chigumba

By Blessings Mashaya

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has laid the grounds for an all-out war with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) which he has given a week to agree to negotiations.

Nelson Chamisa and Priscilla Chigumba
Nelson Chamisa and Priscilla Chigumba

Chamisa also blasted the electoral body’s chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba, at a press conference in Harare yesterday, saying she was “arrogant,” and that she has failed to run Zec.

“One of the biggest challenges that we have had with Chigumba unlike (former Zec chairperson Rita) Makarau’s time is that Chigumba is very arrogant. She thinks that she is the author of law, the alpha and omega of wisdom. She is not, and she must listen.

“She must know that she is being paid by the taxpayers’ money — myself included. She must do things in a manner that satisfies the minimum demands not to come and be arrogant. Arrogance usually walks hand in hand with ignorance. We don’t want her to be one of those unfortunate circumstances in the history of Zimbabwe,” said Chamisa.

The MDC Alliance leader is piling pressure on Zec, saying the electoral management body must implement a raft of administrative reforms to ensure free, fair and credible elections.

In the main, these are to do with the printing, storage and distribution of ballot papers.

Chamisa has taken up his grievances to the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), hoping they would be attended to before the July 30 polls.

Yesterday, he gave Zec a week within which they should meet to discuss their objections.

“We are utilising this whole week for that process (negotiations) hoping that there is going to be an understanding, particularly on the issue of ballot papers. We know what we are talking about. The horse has not yet bolted,” he said.

“We will not be stampeded into an election which is not an election. We will not be frog-marched into an election. We don’t want to go into a fiction, a predetermined movie. It’s a betrayal to those that died for one man, one vote.”

The war of words between Zec and the MDC Alliance seems to have drawn the attention of The Elders, a group of prominent people who use their collective experience and influence to try and achieve peace and justice around the world.

Led by respected former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, The Elders will be in Zimbabwe from tomorrow to July 21, to “meet political leaders and support all actors working for free, fair and transparent elections, an inclusive transition and a brighter future for the country”.

Chamisa also said that the country was now in a crisis and they have reached a stalemate with Zec, which needs the intervention of the international community.

“We are writing to Sadc to request an extraordinary summit to deal with this dispute. As far as we are concerned, this is a dispute. We have a dispute, stalemate, a crisis.

“We cannot possibly have an election if we do not know where is the ballot paper, who printed the ballot paper and the quality of the ballot paper. I have no evidence that the ballot paper was printed in Zimbabwe. I wish I had evidence, which makes it a very serious issue.

“We have hit a stalemate. I have sent a signal to (the African Union) AU and Sadc. In the interest of dialogue, I have requested an extraordinary meeting with Zec chairperson on behalf of the Alliance and, if Chigumba refuses, we are requesting to have a meeting with commissioners so that we articulate our issues.

“We are also going to engage Zanu PF if they are genuine that they are also an equal player. They must have same concerns because I am sure they have not seen the ballot paper unless if they are represented by Zec, they do not have any concern. If the dialogue fails we are going to unleash our instruments of peace.”

He added that he will not repeat the same mistake done by his predecessor the late Morgan Tsvangirai of going into elections without electoral reforms.

Last week, the MDC Alliance party raised alarm that postal voting by police officers at Ross Camp in Bulawayo was done under the supervision of police commanders, in the absence of election agents and Zec officials in a bid to rig the upcoming vote for the ruling Zanu PF.

Chigumba said according to the law, there was no role for candidates, political party representatives or observers in postal voting.

This comes soon after Zec has been smarting from the scandal over leaked data that enabled the ruling party to send personalised, unsolicited campaign messages to potential voters’ mobile phones.

The opposition said the data leak “proves beyond reasonable doubt collusion between (the election commission), Zanu PF and mobile networks” given that it was denied the voter register by the commission.

Zec staunchly denied sharing voters’ data with the ruling party.

Chamisa, who is expected to provide the sternest test to Mnangagwa in the July 30 harmonised elections, has held multiple demonstrations against Zec in recent months — in a bid to force the national elections management body to accede to a raft of demands ahead of the crucial polls.

Chief among these demands is the transparent printing of ballot papers.

“We have raised 10 issues which were our demands for free and fair elections, we scale down, we now have two flash points or red lines which is the issue of ballot paper and voters’ roll. These are so crucial that we can’t even negotiate,” Chamisa said.

“Chigumba was saying as far as they are concerned, it’s water under the bridge, now there is neither water nor any bridge as far as we are concerned. She is mistaken if she thinks that this issue is going to be a sleeping dog. In fact, these dogs are going to bark not only bark but bite very soon because we want a free and fair election. We are not going to boycott the election, winners don’t boycott.”

Chamisa also added that Zanu PF has started intimidating people in the rural areas and is not keen on a free and fair election.

Meanwhile, Chamisa said Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is now his “disciple” after he said the government must construct spaghetti roads.  –DailyNews