Mugabe’s election rigging machine alive and well in President ED Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power in November 2017 through a military coup that forced Robert Mugabe to resign after ruling the Southern African nation for 37 years. Photo credit: Wikipedia/(CC BY-SA 4.0)

By Obert Madondo |  | Jul 20, 2018

Robert Mugabe owes his 37-years in power in Zimbabwe to state-sponsored violence and election rigging. Mugabe, 94, was force to resign last November through a coup that also installed his long-time enforcer, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as president.

The fallen dictator’s election rigging machine is alive and well. In fact, it will likely propel President Mnangagwa to victory during the 2018 harmonized elections, scheduled for July 30th.

As recently reported by NewsDay:

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has reportedly released a register of voters with over 250 000 ghost voters on its final biometric voters’ roll (BVR), NewsDay has established.

The alleged scam, according to the experts who have been analysing the data released by the poll management body, is feared to have involved the highly-discredited Registrar-General’s Office.

An independent team of BVR, electoral administration, human rights and data science experts who sifted through the roll claimed that they unearthed several discrepancies, indicating that over 250 000 ghost voters were on the roll.

The report was based on an analysis (pdf) of ZEC’s 2018  biometric voters’ roll (BVR) conducted by Team Pachedu, an independent group of concerned Zimbabwean human rights experts and data scientists. The analysis found a plethora of anomalies, including underage voters, incomplete voter information, and more than 250 000 “ghost voters” on the roll.

According to Team Pachedu:

The major conclusion is that, by all standards, the 2018 Voters’ Roll is fraught with errors and omissions, along with instances that lead to the assessment that ‘ghost voters’ do exist, despite the fact that ZEC had availed itself of advanced biometric registration and deduplication systems.

In past elections, “ghost voters” on the voters roll have voted for the ruling Zanu PF party.

ZEC, an “independent” board that’s supposed to be another manifestation of the Mnangagwa era’s so-called “new dispensation”, also faces numerous other election-related controversies. For example, it’s design of the presidential ballot paper is contested. The postal voting process is disputed. ZEC has repeatedly disregarded concerns raised by opposition parties and other concerned Zimbabweans.

Meanwhile, ZEC is allegedly too close to Zan PF. Ibbo Mandaza and Tony Reeler, the conveners of Platform for Concerned Citizens, are concerned. On Friday, they wrote in The Independent:

The continued arrogance and lack of separation of both the state and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) from the ruling party, requires challenging by the electorate that has expressed mounting concern about the credibility and transparency of the agency tasked to conduct this election… It is clear to all Zimbabweans that the elections have been linked to sanitising the coup outcome by the region and international community.

The key outcome of the coup was Mnangagwa, 75, Zanu PF’s presidential candidate. Who is Mnangagwa? He served Mugabe, whom he recently described as “father, mentor, comrade-in-arms and my leader”, for over 52 years, dating back to black Zimbabweans’ successful 1970s armed struggle against the racist regime of the late white supremacist Rhodesian prime minister Ian Douglas Smith.

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Mnangagwa is also implicated in the atrocities committed by the Zimbabwean state under Mugabe. As Zimbabwe’s national security minister between 1980 and 1988, he played a leading role in Mugabe’s genocidal Gukurahundi massacres, which claimed the lives of an estimated 20,000 members of Ndebele-speaking minority of Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

As long as the 2018 voters’ roll is in shambles, as it has always been during the Mugabe era, it will be impossible for post-dictatorship Zimbabwe to pass the democracy test.

[Edited]

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based blogger, activist, photographer, digital rights enthusiast, former political aide, and former international development administrator. He’s the founder and editor of these blogs: The Canadian ProgressiveZimbabwean Progressive, and Charity Files. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad

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