Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

How ‘Robbery’ Mugabe stole election

By Lance Guma

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  • Skewed voter registration
  • Doctored voters roll kept secret
  • Overprinting of ballot papers (more than 35%)
  • Use of fake ink and double voting by Zanu PF supporters
  • No UV lamps used to detect removal of visible ink
  • Use of fake registration slips obtained from Zanu PF officials
  • High number of assisted voters
  • Bussing in of people from other constituencies
  • Threats of eviction directed at resettled families
  • Use of soldiers to intimidate villagers
  • Use of traditional leaders to force bloc voting
  • Abuse and monopoly of state media
  • Chaotic special vote allowed double voting

After Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe lost elections to Morgan Tsvangirai in March 2008 his militants responded with the brutal ‘Operation Mavhotera Papi – Where did you vote’ in which an estimated 500 perceived opposition supporters were killed and thousands maimed or displaced.

'Robbery' Mugabe steals another election
‘Robbery’ Mugabe steals another election

A shaky coalition government was cobbled up by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and for 5 years this was meant to be a transitional mechanism to pave the way for free and fair elections. But instead Mugabe used that period to plot one of the great electoral thefts in history.

As millions of deflated Zimbabweans home and abroad come to terms with being governed once more by a regime that has relied on violence, abductions, rape and murder to remain in power, Nehanda Radio pieces together how Mugabe and his party rigged the July 31 election.

Mugabe abused state institutions funded by the tax-payer to subvert the electoral will of the same tax-payers. The 89 year old also abused his control of the Mines Ministry to divert from Treasury, millions of dollars in diamond revenue that could have built schools and hospitals to fund his chicanery.

Skewed voter registration

Using revenues being siphoned off from State and Chinese controlled diamond mining firms in Marange, Mugabe’s party paid Israeli firm Nikuv International Projects, $13 million (£8.5 million) to manipulate voter registration, counter ‘unfavourable’ results and ‘neutralise’ opposition votes.

Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede

Key to this manipulation was Registra General Tobaiwa Mudede. Not only is the 69 year old Mudede 4 years over the retirement age for a civil servant, he is a card carrying Zanu PF member who has been in charge of all elections held since 1985. There is a reason why Mugabe has stuck with him for 33 years.

Throughout the mobile voter registration exercise Nehanda Radio reported how the Registra General’s Office under Mudede deliberately frustrated young aspiring voters especially those in opposition strongholds. Registration officers were under instructions to register an average of 10 voters per day.

In contrast the mobile voter registration in rural areas, considered Zanu PF strongholds, was conducted thoroughly and efficiently. Known Zanu PF activists were bussed into and given first preference at registration centres.

According to MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti about 300 000 people in Harare alone were denied the chance to register as voters. Additionally voters under 35 were deliberately frustrated while older ones perceived to be more likely to vote for Mugabe were given no hassles in the registration exercise.

Even after the voter registration exercise was officially closed, the Registra General’s Office under Mudede continued to secretly register Zanu PF supporters. Dozens of Nehanda Radio Citizen Reporters filed daily stories exposing how bus-loads of Mugabe supporters continued to be registered.

An exasperated Tendai Biti addressed a press conference at the party’s Harvest House  headquarters where he revealed that ZEC was not availing the final voters roll because Zanu PF was still secretly registering its supporters.

“We have people who are prepared to swear on affidavits to the effect that voter registration is still taking place in some areas,” Biti said.

He said they had written to ZEC and brought to their attention the secret “voter registration exercise at places like Manresa, Harare East and Mash West and so on.”

Doctored voters roll kept secret

The manner in which the registration exercise was conducted created a voters roll heavily skewed in Zanu PF’s favour. But the shenanigans did not end there. Under the Electoral Act all the parties participating in the elections should have been given the chance to inspect the voters roll. This did not happen.

This was not by accident. Tobaiwa Mudede had worked hand in glove with Zanu PF and looked at the seats the party lost in 2008. They analysed the margins by which Zanu PF lost and began the process of moving people around constituencies on the voters roll to help Zanu PF recapture the seats.

The Mt Pleasant constituency where the MDC-T candidate Jameson Timba lost had 9000 soldiers ‘nicodemously’ registered there. Mudede facilitated the unauthorised movement of voters from their wards and as was seen on election day almost 40% of voters were being turned away and disenfranchised.

Most people have by now seen the video in which MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti confronts Zanu PF youths who had been bussed in from Honde Valley (hundreds of kilometres away) and were trying to vote in Mt Pleasant on Election Day. None of them could provide proof of residence in Mt Pleasant.

The MDC-T rightfully pointed out in a statement that thousands failed to register and were disenfranchised, the voters roll was not delivered timeously as required by law, there was no proper inspection of the voters’ roll to verify authenticity and there was a duplication of names on the voters roll.

It’s estimated there are at least 1 million dead voters, a phantom voting bloc that is more than enough to settle any election. Many exiled Zimbabweans who have never registered to vote, saw their names appearing on the voters roll courtesy of an online website created by people with access to a 27 May 2013 voters roll.

On the 19th of July, Tendai Biti accused Mudede of creating three to four different voters roll databases, for the purposes of rigging the elections. Biti claimed voters would be able to see their names on the roll but come election day, their names would not appear and they would not be able to vote.

Eight days after the election the Electoral Commission admitted that the elections were tainted with massive irregularities which saw 511 791 voters disenfranchised either through assisted voting or being turned away.

The MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai issued a statement saying the admission by the nine-member electoral commission vindicated their position that the elections were a monumental farce as “Zanu PF assisted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the State machinery stole the people’s victory.”

“In the figures released by ZEC today at the request of the MDC-T, a total of 206 901 voters were assisted to vote while 304 890 people were turned away with Harare province recording the highest number of 64 483 such people,” the MDC-T said. A total of 3.4 million people voted in the disputed election.

The MDC-T believes that “although ZEC has released these figures, the correct numbers are higher than this considering that two million people particularly in the urban areas failed to register in the chaotic voter registration exercise.”

In July this year the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) released a report that exposed how 78 constituencies had more registered voters than inhabitants based on the 2012 census. The Registra General’s office in panic secured a High Court order blocking RAU from launching its report which analysed the voters roll.

The key findings in the audit included:

– 2,000,000 potential voters aged under 30 who are unregistered.

– 1,000,000 people on the roll who are either deceased or have left the country.

– 78 constituencies have more registered voters than inhabitants.

– There is a marked registration bias in favour of rural constituencies.

– 40 constituencies deviate from the average number of voters per constituency by more than the permitted 20%.

Eddie Cross, MDC-T Member of Parliament for Bulawayo South said:

“We went into battle with a (voters) roll that had 6,4 million names on it. We have been unable to get a copy of the roll in electronic format (costing about $15 and on one small CD which can be produced in 30 minutes) and therefore have to rely on a copy we obtained some 6 weeks ago.

Cross said the voters roll “contains at least 1 million dead voters; goodness knows how many absent voters who now reside in the Diaspora. We know that there are over 350 000 people who are over 85 years old and 109 000 over a hundred years old, one of which – an army officer is 135 years old.”

In addition Cross said they found 838 000 duplicate names – same name, same address, same date of birth, different ID numbers. “All the ID’s checked were genuine and had been issued by the Registrar General,” he said.

The analysis of the Voters Roll also unearthed the fact that “500 000 people had been moved out of their resident areas to other electoral districts, 45 000 people had their ID numbers changed without their consent,” Cross said.

Overprinting of ballot papers (more than 35%)

Before the election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission admitted that it had printed 35 percent more ballot papers than needed. This meant ZEC printed 8,7 million ballot papers even though the country had 6,4 million registered voters.

ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau justified this saying “35 percent is a large number, but it’s our duty to account for each and every ballot, all 8,7 million ballots will be accounted for, that is what will make for a fair election.”

It has now turned out these extra ballots were a buffer for the double voting that was to take place on election day.

Use of fake ink and double voting by Zanu PF supporters

In past elections UV lamps were deployed to be used at polling stations. These help to detect ink on the hands of someone who has already voted and is trying to vote for a second time. Without the UV lamps Zanu PF supporters voted as many times as they wanted after washing off the ink with spirits or alcohol.

Already testimonies are beginning to come through.

One person wrote “We don’t know how to approach MDCT on this. Here in Bindura South, ie in Musana communal lands, Zanu PF promised us some $300 each soon as after we vote. They gave us some fake voter registration certificates to vote for (Remigio) Matangira.

“We did that but now they are threatening us that if we tell anyone we are going to be killed. We are about 500 youths from Muchapondwa, Chiveso, Masembura and Chireka. As I’m typing this, I’m hiding in Chipadze Bindura. We are ready to shower Tsvangirai with evidence but tiri kutya.Toita sei?

“Each person voted twice on the election day. We still have the voter registration certificate,” the whistle-blower wrote.

Another testimony via the Nehanda Radio Citizen Reports said:

“Am a student who is on the “presidential scholarship”. Before the elections began, we were called to a meeting and threatened to help Zanu rig elections. During election, me and 53 other students ,were then bussed to Buhera South where there was a fake polling station and we voted 30 times each.”

While some of the testimonies are difficult to verify, a clear pattern is emerging of some of the chicanery used on election day.

The ‘losing’ MDC-T candidate for Chegutu West Chalton Hwende says they are discovering abandoned IDs that were used to rig the just ended election. This is amid reports of the use of fake indelible ink which allowed multiple voting by Zanu PF supporters.

abandoned ids
Abandoned IDs in Chegutu that were allegedly used to rig the just ended election

Hwende posted this picture of the abandoned IDs saying “85% of the IDs in this picture are dead people and a good number in the diaspora. What a Shame to (Jacob) Zuma for endorsing this Fraud.”

Threats of eviction directed at resettled families

According to one report Zanu PF moved an estimated 250 000 families onto farms taken away their owners in the peri urban areas. They also opened offices there and “sold” small plots of land to homeless people in the crowded towns. The beneficiaries of this scheme were told to vote Zanu PF or face eviction.

During a Zanu PF mobilisation meeting in October last year, political commissar Webster Shamu boasted that schemes like the Nehanda Housing Co-operative near Dzivarasekwa Extension had successfully gone according to plan and Zanu PF had gained about 175 000 members through them.

Several beneficiaries from the Nehanda Housing Co-operative and the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Housing Cooperative in Kambuzuma used the Nehanda Radio Citizen Reports platform to complain about how they were being threatened into voting for Zanu PF or risk losing their residential stands.

Use of traditional leaders to force bloc voting

In rural areas, villagers were told to first report to their village head (sabhuku or chiefs) who would then take them in a group to the polling station. This was a deliberate ploy to ensure villagers were intimidated into thinking their vote was not secret and they, like in 2008, could be killed for voting MDC-T.

Village heads were given instructions to marshal their ‘subjects’ record names and ID numbers and then arrange for them to vote at a specified polling station. Soldiers and Zanu PF militants were used to threaten villagers on what would happen to their families, homes and livestock, if they voted MDC-T.

Given then that the majority of parliamentary seats are in rural areas, Zanu PF was able to harvest this fear and turn it into a parliamentary majority. The violence in June 2008 was so brutal and extreme, all Zanu PF needed to do during this election was remind people of what it was capable of doing.

Assisted Voters

According to the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) voters in many rural areas were told by traditional leaders and police to pretend they did not know how to vote on Election Day. Large numbers of voters, especially in areas like Chegutu and Murehwa, asked to be assisted.

CCDZ director Phillip Pasirayi said;

“The law says that police officers are not supposed to be inside polling stations. But we are getting it from our observers that in the majority of stations where they visited, the officers are interfering with the voting process. They were seen organizing queues and issuing instructions,” Pasirayi explained.

The AU observer mission also queried the high number of assisted voters especially in Muzarabani and Mashonaland Central.

“Examples include polling stations in Muzarabani District, Mashonaland Central; at Musengezi, at the time of observation, 97 voters out of 370 were assisted; Kapembere Primary School, 77 voters out of 374 were assisted and Bore Primary School 85 voters out of 374 were assisted,” the AU said.

Mugabe apologist Joyce Kazembe who is the deputy chair of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission sheepishly told journalists “We have noted that in some areas there is quite a high number of assisted voters, we really are trying to find out what are the reasons for the assisted voters,” she said.

Abuse and monopoly of state media

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has a monopoly on radio and television broadcasting in the country. ZBC is funded by the tax payer via and through the payment of licence fees. In structure it is meant to be a state broadcaster, but for 33 years it has served Mugabe and his party.

Nothing exposed this monopoly more than the adverts Zanu PF ran on ZBC attacking the personal life of Prime Minister Tsvangirai while denying him the chance to respond via the same medium. Equal access to the state media is one of the SADC guidelines for a free and fair election.

Despite covering most of Mugabe’s rallies live and for free, the ZBC demanded US$165 000 in order to give live coverage of the MDC-T manifesto launch by Tsvangirai at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera.

Tsvangirai wrote back telling them “your invoice quoted for US$165 000 as coverage fee is in our opinion not competitive and grossly unfair given that as a State broadcaster, the constitution requires that you give equal and fair coverage to all political players at this time of election campaigning.”

Three days before ZBC had written a letter to Tsvangirai in which they refused to air a 50 seconds-long advert from the Prime Minister’s office which they had received a month before even though they were continuously playing Zanu PF jingles.

Chaotic special vote allowed double voting

The chaotic nature of the special vote resembled the chaotic nature of the Zanu PF primaries. The voting was characterised by chaos, violence and inadequate ballot papers. Figures showed that 69 000 police officers had applied to vote even though Biti confirmed Treasury was only paying 40 000 police officers.

“As Treasury, I can tell you we are not paying 69 000 police officers, it is almost double those on the country’s payroll which is something questionable. The special voting vetting exercise is taking place at the Harare International Conference Centre and the place is heavily militarised,” Biti said.

While many wondered at the chaos, it later transpired everything was stage managed. Nehanda Radio published accounts from its citizen reporters who exposed how thousands of security forces and civil servants failed to vote amid claims Zanu PF activists were given fake I.D’s to vote on their behalf.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai said his party had evidence that Zanu-PF youths voted during the two-day special voting exercise. Tsvangirai told a rally in Nembudziya, Gokwe, that the confusion was actually planned. “They want to steal the elections through the special ballot vote,” he said.

“They had all the 80 000 ballots, but what their intelligence told them was that the police also wanted change. They then created an artificial shortage and only released 5 000 special envelopes.” Tsvangirai said Zanu-PF bussed its youths to pose as police officers so as to vote in Mt Pleasant, Harare.

It is not coincidence Zanu PF later wrestled the Mt Pleasant constituency from the MDC-T in Harare.

So what happens now

The MDC-T has demanded a forensic audit of the electoral processes in particular the voters’ roll, the ballot papers, where they were printed, the special vote; voter displacement and voter registration certificates.

The party said it is determined to pursue all peaceful, legal, political, constitutional and diplomatic remedies to resolve the current crisis and once all the remedies have been exhausted, Zimbabweans should be allowed a fresh opportunity to freely and fairly elect a government of their choice.