Overwhelm ZEC, Zanu PF on Monday, Chamisa in rallying call

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa gestures during the launch of his party's election manifesto in Harare, Zimbabwe, June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE – Nelson Chamisa rallied MDC Alliance supporters to trigger “an avalanche for real change” on polling day on Monday and “overwhelm” what he said were machinations to cheat by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Zanu PF.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting of his party’s National Council, Chamisa said the Alliance would not be boycotting Monday’s watershed election despite reaching a “deadlock” with ZEC over their demands for electoral reforms.

“On Tuesday, ZEC held a multi-party liaison committee which regrettably yielded nothing and did not advance the cause of a free, fair, transparent and credible process,” Chamisa said.

“Quite clearly, there is now a definite deadlock and stalemate on key substantive and procedural issues. The deadlock was avoidable and unnecessary and has been created by the arrogance, lack of impartiality and intransigence of ZEC.”

He said they had “lost all confidence and trust in ZEC”, but said pulling out of the election would be “boycotting our own victory.”

“Winners don’t quit, we are the winners in this election. We’re aware of machinations by Zanu PF to try and push us into a situation of despondency [so that we boycott election]. We know they’re panicking and scared of an election,” said the 40-year-old who is fighting his first presidential election.

He said Zanu PF leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa, also in his first presidential election after coming into power through a military coup last November, “should not be afraid of the inevitable, he must be there to accept defeat in magnanimity.”

He added: “Monday is Independence Day, our people are voting overwhelmingly for change. I have a message for our supporters: let’s overwhelm their machinations by coming out in our numbers. Let us have an avalanche for real change that will stop the cheating, and stop the shenanigans.”

Dr.Pedzisai Ruhanya@PedzisaiRuhanya

Fellow Zimbabweans please dont believe in electoral witchcraft and state decoys ABOUT MOVING INK ON BALLOT PAPER. Just turn out in MILLIONS on 30 July overwhelm any chicanery. Get out and vote in HUGE NUMBERS. Opposition parties must have polling agents at all polling STATIONS!

He said the MDC was “putting in place anti-rigging mechanisms” using available intelligence to thwart what the party says are schemes by the electoral body and Zanu PF to influence the vote.

He said their main gripe with ZEC were “traditional challenges that have always arrested our elections and have been the basis of electoral authoritarianism in Zimbabwe.”

He cited violence and intimidation; abuse of state resources, traditional leaders and politicisation of food aid as well as what he said was the “capture and abuse” of the public media.

“Zanu PF is distributing maize seed and fertilizer in June and July. We must sympathise with their anxiety because they know, as we do, that the MDC Alliance has a clear, predictable path to victory,” he said.

He declared deadlock with ZEC over the printing of ballot papers. “ZEC has refused to discharge its constitutional obligation to disclose fully the source, status, traceability and security of the ballot paper.”

There had also been no full disclosure on materials including the silver nitrate composition of the ink, the voting pen and the seals.

ZEC, he said, had refused to avail the full voters’ roll in searchable format; had increased the polling stations outside the 10,000 agreed in September 2017 and had conducted an “opaque” postal voting process in which police officers voted in front of their superiors “therefore eliminating the secrecy of the ballot.”

ZEC was also not giving guarantees, he said, that results of the presidential vote will be posted outside polling stations as required by law.

“Regrettably, ZEC in the past has failed to respect the transmission process of results in so far as it relates to the presidential election. Indeed, despite demand they failed to give guarantees that they will comply with the law in this election,” he charged.

Going forward, he said the MDC Alliance will pursue a three-pronged strategy of diplomatic engagement, legal action and mass action as protected by section 59 of the Constitution.

“We have remained loyal to the constitution and the basic tenets of the rule of law against serious provocation, serious contempt by Zanu PF leaders and the ZEC,” he said.

“We appeal to the entrepreneurs of chaos and disorder in this country that they should not push the Zimbabwean people. We are appealing to those who are promoting the agenda of choosing stability over democracy that there are no options to democracy.

“We make the point that let July 30 be the day that Zimbabweans are allowed to truly enjoy the fundamental principle of one person, one vote which was the core of our liberation struggle.”

He reserved special criticism for ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba. She leads a “stubborn and arrogant” organisation that is “opaque in their processes, non-transparent and non-conforming with our laws.”

With reference to recent revelations that Chigumba was in a sexual relationship with a married Zanu PF minister, Chamisa said: “We don’t want to go into the bedroom but will limit ourselves to the boardroom of ZEC. Chigumba is a courageous woman but we want that courage to be seasoned with integrity.

“We have a ZEC that is biased, one that has lost the confidence of the people of Zimbabwe. They are the referee but they’ve decided to throw away the whistle and play for another team – Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa and ZEC must both be defeated overwhelmingly.”

He would not be drawn to say what the MDC Alliance’s response would be if ZEC declared Mnangagwa the winner. Defeat was not part of their planning process, he said.

“The view of the people is that Mr Chamisa lead us to Canaan, lead us to a new Zimbabwe. I’m a servant of the people, I’m guided by what the people want. Yes, ZEC is intransigent but we’ll still defeat them.”

On Tuesday, police announced they had banned an MDC Alliance demonstration against ZEC in central Harare. But in his press conference on Wednesday, Chamisa left no doubt that the MDC Alliance would be organising mass gatherings soon after the election.

He called on supporters to “come out in their numbers and protect their vote at the constituency centre and provincial centres”, adding: “Soon after voting, people have to gather for celebrations.”

He rejected suggestions by Mnangagwa that he was planning a violent confrontation with his regime.

“We have the capacity to take up instruments of violence, but our DNA is peace. Mnangagwa is not willing to be on the path of peace, the path of progress. We have a contested process and our wish is that we don’t have a contested election,” he said.

There was nothing to fear in MDC Alliance street demonstrations because they were “demonstrating for the rule of law; these are constitutional rights.”

“We want Zimbabweans to come out in their large numbers and vote, be peaceful in their engagement and disposition. We have fake news mercenaries from a certain country. They have done this in other countries where they have helped dictators. Don’t listen to them, listen to us,” he said.

“I’m a man of peace, my whole life has been about peace. I’m a pastor, a man of God. I honour the people, I honour God. It’s an allegation that will not stick [that we want violence]. Fact is, if we say this country will be ungovernable tomorrow, we have the capacity. We’re containing the pressure of the young people, young people want to go the extra mile for their freedom but we’re not going to be adventuristic. But if they rig or cheat, they will face the music. That, they should know. It’s not a threat, it’s a promise.”

He said government employees had nothing to worry about at the prospects of an MDC Alliance government because “we’re only changing the leadership; the bureaucracy will be reoriented.” – ZimLive