Mnangagwa slammed for ruling out electoral reforms

Zimbabwe President Nelson Chamisa

HARARE – Opposition parties have savaged President Emmerson Mnangagwa for ruling out electoral reforms after the United States of America gave him and his administration conditions that if met, will see Donald Trump’s administration completely removing the current sanctions and re-establishing wholesome relations with Harare.

US Senators Jeff Flake and Chris Coons, who are both members of Washington’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Bill in Congress last week which clearly lays out the framework for future American relations with Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa claimed at a CEO forum in Abidjan that the two senators were misled.

“Fortunately, … Flake and … Coons are coming to Zimbabwe.

“They are going to realise that the distance between Harare and Washington is very wide. This is why they are saying what doesn’t exist in Zimbabwe.

“They only produced an agenda of the opposition which they were given last December by members of the opposition but when they come we shall say members of the opposition are here, can you go to them and find where the military is participating in the elections,” Mnangagwa said.

“They will find zero and they will be able now to talk to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and they will get concrete answers, the Electoral Act is there.

“When looking at what they are saying, you realise that they are not well informed, they are just reading the text of the opposition who are afraid of elections.”

MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said his boss told the US-based Carter Centre pre-election observer team that there is no political will to implement political reforms.

He told the mission that government was still to align key pieces of legislation to the new Constitution.

Among the laws still to be aligned to the Constitution are the Electoral Act, the Public Order Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Chamisa raised alarm over political violence, the militarisation of villages, and the abuse of traditional leaders, impartial coverage and unequal access to the media as well as the independence of Zec, whose secretariat consists serving and or retired members of the military.

He also bemoaned the partisan distribution of food, particularly in the rural areas where food continued to be used as a political weapon to hold the rural populace captive to Zanu PF.

“The MDC Alliance presidential candidate said the party wanted all stakeholders to agree on the identity of the company that would print the ballot papers, as well as auditing the voters’ roll that will be used in the plebiscite.

“The people’s president said it was important to audit the quality of the ballot paper as well as all other voting materials that will be used in the plebiscite,” Tamborinyoka said.

Spokesperson of Thokozani Khupe-led MDC Obert Gutu said electoral reforms have not yet been implemented in Zimbabwe.

“For instance, the ruling Zanu PF party still dominates and virtually monopolises both the State-owned print and electronic media, contrary to the constitutional requirement that clearly stipulates that the State-owned media should give unfettered and equal coverage to all political parties. Traditional leaders are still acting as de facto Zanu PF political commissars in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

“Villagers are being commandeered and coerced to attend Zanu PF political rallies and other functions. No less than 5 000 soldiers in civilian attire have since been deployed into rural Zimbabwe to clandestinely campaign for the ruling party.

“In these circumstances, therefore, anyone who claims that the 2018 harmonised elections will be free and fair is totally out of their mind. I have done my own undercover investigations and I was reliably informed that ED has already been given at least 58 percent of the presidential vote by the relevant electoral authorities and other powerful forces behind the scenes. This election is already being rigged in a very smart way,” Gutu said.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the electoral playing field was skewed in favour of Zanu PF.

“On the political front, nothing has changed.

“The media (State) is not covering opposition rallies. The broadcasting licences are being given to regime companies and friends.

“The army is in the villages, serving army generals and officers are part of Zanu PF commissariat.

“To hold elections 8 months after a coup where the architects of the coup are contesting is not an election but a coronation,” Mafume said.

National People’s Party (NPP) spokesperson Jeffrayson Chitando said Mnangagwa as the president had a duty to assure the nation that the electoral playing field will be level.

“Mnangagwa is insincere on electoral reforms. He must act on the traditional leaders. He must assure the nation that soldiers must not intervene in elections.

“Zanu PF must not use food to buy votes. If he does all this, we then say we are going to have free and fair elections.” – Daily News