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Evidence of electoral rigging already emerging in Zimbabwe

A reliable source in the Ministry of Home Affairs has revealed that while frustrated Zimbabweans queue in their thousands to obtain their birth certificates, identity and passport documents, Government has hijacked the process and is clandestinely handing out documents to Zanu-PF supporters. "These supporters from far off places are preferentially given identity cards and passports and registered as voters", this is in order to reconfigure the Harare and Bulawayo urban constituency voters rolls ahead of the 2008 harmonised elections.

Zimbabwe's electoral law allows only holders of national identity cards and passports to vote.

Minister of Womens Affairs, Oppah Rushesha, her deputy Abigail Damasane, and Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises, are rallying government departments to assist the processing of batches of national identity cards and passports. The Ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare led by Nicholas Goche is facilitating wages for the youth militia (locally referred to as the Green Bombers) who are now literally political commissars for Zanu-PF, while the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) facilitates the registration of Zanu-PF supporters in the Harare and Bulawayo urban voters roll.

In the parliamentary election of 2005, former MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi lost the Gwanda constituency seat to Zanu-PF after the CIO secretly registered thousands of graduates from the Border Gezi youth militia.

Many see this as on reason why, in 2005, the Zanu PF government embarked on 'Operation Murambatsvina' or 'Clear out the Trash', a police operation to destroy homes belonging to poor urbanites, exposing victims to the cold winter. Despite condemnation by the United Nations (UN), President Robert Mugabe endorsed the action, arguing that these were necessary slum clearances. Homeless victims, many of whom were MDC supporters, were forcibly removed to remote areas and rendered unable to vote since they are now far from where they are registered to vote.

Government is also setting up self-help and grocery clubs for Zanu-PF supporters with funds drawn from the fiscus, and these have also been associated with clandestine voter registration.

Self-help projects, the brainchild of Vice President Joice Mujuru, entail chicken rearing and the supply of farm fertilizer and these are targeted at boosting the morale of personnel in the army and police force. According to our sources, beneficiaries of the project are secretly registered as voters to swell the Harare and Bulawayo urban constituency voters roll.

Grocery clubs, led by Ministers Oppah Rushesha and Sithembiso Nyoni, buy scarce commodities such as cooking oil and washing soap in Botswana and South Africa for profit sale back home. Many interpret this as an open admission by the government of having ruined the economy. Grocery club members are each given Z$10 million sourced from the Reserve Bank - this is to facilitate the purchase of scarce commodities. They are then directed to illegally buy foreign currency in the streets. Again, sources say that beneficiaries are being registered as voters in Bulawayo.

The MDC (Tsvangirai) National Director of Elections, Ian Makone was arrested at a critical time for the MDC. Makone was arrested just when the party was about to launch its Democratic Resistance Campaign (DRC), a campaign based on the precepts of the revered Mahatma Ghandi, and timed to coincide with the launch of the party's campaign for next years tripartite national elections. Said one MDC official, who spoke on condition of anonymity; "it stands to reason that Government arrested Makone to rig next years elections while he was in jail. And even though he is out of custody, his work is hampered because other important MDC members are in custody over spurious petrol bombing charges."

Lucia Matibenga, MDC (Tsvangirai) National Chairperson-Womens Assembly, was refused permission to even check that her name was on the voters roll. This was just before one registration official recognised her and instructed subordinates to assist her saying, "she's the MDC boss. We don't want to be all over the newspapers". Matibenga insists that people should "demand" to be registered.

Zanu-PF has a track record of manipulating the registration process towards meeting its own objectives. First, through 'Operation Murambatsvina', Zanu-PF reduced significant numbers of MDC supporters on urban voters rolls nationwide. Second, by registering new supporters in Harare and Bulawayo, Zanu-PF is encroaching and building its numbers on turf traditionally held by the opposition MDC.

Zanu-PF knows it has lost the urban vote and it 'wins' elections by manipulating the delimitation Commission, comprised mainly of Mugabe's dreaded Central Intelligence (CIO). This body marks out constituency boundaries according to area population, and in the current status quo ensures at any one time there are more rural than urban constituencies.

The ongoing secret and continuous voter registration is calculated to swell the number of Zanu-PF supporters on the voters roll.

The registration of Zanu-PF supporters in Harare is augmented by the Ministry of Local Government redrawing and extending Harare Province boundaries to include areas previously held by evicted white farmers. In these recently acquired areas, such as Harare South where Zanu-PF holds a parliamentary seat, government has resettled mainly war veterans and Zanu-PF supporters, and is now secretly registering them as voters. Felix Mafa, MDC spokesman for Bulawayo Province asked, "what other evidence of rigging do people need?"

Surprisingly, while in many democracies the citizens voters roll is accessible for voter registration throughout the year, Mugabe maintains a law restricting the voter registration period to one week, and although the law obliges government to advertise the period of voter registration, no adverts have as yet been flighted on state radio and television. This is save for one advert appearing in The Chronicle newspaper, issue of Saturday 16 June, stating that voter registration runs from 17 June to 17 August.

Government is exercising a fraudulent silence and is determined to ensure that mainly Zanu-PF supporters register to vote. Shockingly, Government has sent registration officers to the suburbs, allowing only two days for voter registration, thus excluding hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans from the process and consequently denying them a right to vote.

It is clear to most that Mugabe and Zanu-PF are rigging next years' elections before voting even starts.