Tsvangirai’s chief elections agent arrested over binned ballots

On Monday MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s elections chief Morgan Komichi was hauled before a Harare court for raising the alarm over dumped ballot papers.

Komichi was arrested Sunday after he handed in an envelope containing ballot papers found dumped in a dustbin following the Special Vote on July 14th-16th.

According to the MDC-T, Komichi received a tip off from an unnamed person who had retrieved the ballots from a bin at the Harare International Conference Centre, which was the ballot processing centre.

The ballots were then handed over to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) which confirmed the authenticity of the papers.

However the matter took another turn Sunday when ZEC queried the credibility of Komichi’s version of what happened, leading to the polling agent’s arrest.

Among other issues, ZEC says Komichi delayed in passing the ballots on to its chief elections officer, and that he opened the tamper-proof envelope.

Komichi is now under pressure from both ZEC and the police to reveal the identity of the person who blew the whistle on the binned ballots, which he refuses to do.

Police Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba has already said that “as long as he refuses to disclose the identity of this person, the police will hold him accountable therefore he becomes the prime suspect.”

On Monday, a heavily guarded Komichi appeared at Rotten Row Magistrates’ Courts in Harare, charged with fraud and violating the Electoral Act by tampering with a ballot paper. His lawyer, Tarisai Mutangi, said his team will be applying for bail Tuesday.

Komichi denies the charge, with MDC-T officials accusing the Commission of launching a witch-hunt meant to aid ZANU PF’s vote-rigging plot.

MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa told the press soon after Komichi’s arrest that ZEC should instead focus on the issue of the dumped ballots.

Chamisa said: “We believe that it is not Senator Komichi but ZEC, which has questions to answer. If there is any investigation to be made, the theatre of investigations should be ZEC.”

He added: “For us these developments demonstrate a perforation of the integrity of ZANU PF, (which) wants to undermine the will of the people.”

Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa Monday that Komichi’s crime was exposing ZEC and “telling the truth”.

“Komichi got an anonymous tip-off concerning the dumped ballots and made a follow-up. We then discovered that the voter had voted for Morgan Tsvangirai as the presidential candidate.

“Komichi exposed this to ZEC as well as the press, and that is why he has been arrested. Now they are accusing the MDC-T of dramatising the situation, yet we discovered something very irregular with the voting process.”

Mwonzora said the direction in which the investigation was moving proved that the police were using diversionary tactics to avoid dealing with the key issue of vote-rigging.

He added that the arrest of their key candidate’s chief election agent, two days before the poll, will not derail the MDC-T’s goal of unseating ZANU PF.

“There is fear within ZANU PF as we go into the election. They have tried using hate language against Morgan Tsvangirai, they have tried distorting his message, tried diverting our supporters to their own rallies, used intimidation, and now they have arrested his agent. But all these tactics have failed, and will continue to fail.”

Mwonzora said the MDC-T is keen to hear what the election observers from both the African Union and the Southern African Development Community had to say about dumped ballots, as well as Komichi’s arrest. – SW Radio Africa News

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