By Tichaona Sibanda
President Robert Mugabe’s trusted Joint Operations Command (JOC) took a vice like grip on proceedings of the July 31st elections, which allowed them to snuff the remaining life out of the opposition through rigging.
In a 48 page-dossier compiled by the MDC led by ex-Premier Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition party claims Justice Rita Makarau, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), had her authority reduced to nothing more than rubber stamping.
The JOC deployed Silas Nyanungo, a senior CIO operative to the ZEC headquarters in Harare, where he assumed the role of chief operations officer. This rendered Makarau useless and forced her to toe the ZANU PF line.
Covertly Nyanungo set up systems and structures within ZEC that ensured he had total control of all the processes, programmes and decisions, according to the dossier, that has been reportedly handed over to several SADC Heads of States and diplomats based in Harare.
The JOC’s stranglehold over much of the running and conduct of the elections raised alarm among some ZEC Commissioners, who forced Makarau to take up the issue with Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, two weeks before the poll.
‘On July 15, Makarau, after being pressured by the majority of commissioners, approached Mudede requesting an explanation over the lack of transparency as well as progress in the voter registration and preparation of the voters’ roll following widespread outcry and condemnation of the corrupted process.
‘However, Mudede refused to own up and explain the chaos around voter registration but rather, Makarau was ordered to leave the matter, by Retired Air-Vice Marshal Henry Muchena.’
Muchena, a director at ZANU PF headquarters, was part of a three member committee (management and implemention) controlled by the military and intelligence organs. Other members of this committee included major-general Douglas Nyikayaramba and Aaron Daniel Tonderai Nhepera, the deputy director-general of the CIO.
Above this body was the high command, personally appointed by Mugabe and led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former defence minister in the inclusive government. The dossier says this body was tasked with supervising and commanding the whole rigging mission.
The dossier claims that others that were involved in this body included Sydney Sekeramayi, Saviour Kasukuwere, Webster Shamu, Ignatius Chombo, Kembo Mohadi, Christopher Mushowe, Nicholas Goche and Obert Mpofu.
‘Each and every department at ZEC had plants that controlled and directed all plans and operations in conformity with instructions and guidelines provided from the military and intelligence management committee,’ the report said.
It added that Makarau and the rest of commissioners were also kept in the dark about the processes as well as plans behind the printing of ballot papers, which was now the preserve of the junta.
‘The ZEC official structure cannot up to now account for the number of ballot papers that were printed, how they were distributed and used. The commissioners were merely given figures to issue out, but without at all being allowed to observe, monitor or even take stock of this vital aspect of an election,’ according to the report in possession of SW Radio Africa.
However, political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya said there is nothing in the report that senior MDC-T officials were not aware of as they were warned well in advance of ZANU PF’s plans to rig the poll.
‘The report will not change anything. It’s only new to people who are not serious, as many people produced reports and verbally told the MDC-T of how Mugabe was going to rig the elections.
‘They didn’t listen…the problem with the party is it’s full of divisive elements, full of people who are not content, full of people who realize how they were tricked after the event,’ said Ruhanya.
He continued: ‘What is done is done and cannot be undone. The reality is ZANU PF has successfully rigged the elections; they are in power and it’s not going to be undone. What is to be done is to have a thorough interrogation of the whole process. SW Radio Africa