Mozambicans bussed in to vote

Zanu (PF) candidates enlisted Mozambican nationals to vote in the July 31 general elections so as to boost their chances of winning, it has been revealed.

The Zimbabwean made the discovery as a group of bussed voters, numbering close to 200, was left stranded in the Midlands mining town of Zvishavane after casting their votes.

Sources said the group voted using voter slips suspected to be fraudulent and their names did not appear on the voters’ roll. They spent about a week at the Mandava bus terminus in Zvishavane before being moved to New Hall in the town by the local Zanu (PF)leadership last Friday to avoid public scrutiny.

Authorities at New Hall demanded that they be paid $400 upfront to accommodate them, but the money could not be availed, so the stranded voters were moved to an open space in the town.They reportedly comprised several people who had travelled all the way from Mozambique, together with others from as far as Gwanda, Chegutu, and Chipinge.

Sources said the Mozambicans struggled with the local Shona language, and confessed that, like their other stranded Zimbabweans, they had been promised jobs at the Murowa diamond and Sabi gold mines.

Management at the two mining companies were not aware of this arrangement and said they could not help the dumped people. “They told us that they had been approached by Zanu (PF) activists in their home areas and told they would be given jobs at Marange and other mines. They said they travelled all the way to Chipinge and Mutare where they were facilitated to get local IDs indicating that were Zimbabweans,” said one of our contacts in Zvishavane.

The numbers of those that fell for the ruse could not be established, but the Mozambicans confessed that they travelled from various regions that included Espungabera and Manica, weeks before voting started.

“They said they hoped that voting for the candidates who contacted them would provide them with a chance to get jobs, but were disappointed that they had been used. Just like their Zimbabwean counterparts, they have been without food for some time. They are selling their cell phones and other personal belongings to buy food,” said the source.

Mozambicans from close to the border can cross into Zimbabwe using gate passes, but those from farther afield are asked to produce passports. Some of them are well known at the border and are related to Zimbabweans through marriage.

The stranded Mozambicans revealed that the majority of their colleagues had remained in Manicaland, particularly in Mutare, hoping to land jobs at the diamonds fields.

Lillian Acropol, the MDC-T Provincial Chairperson for the Midlands province and a resident of Zvishavane confirmed that the Mozambicans had confessed to being bussed into Zimbabwe.

“They revealed that they came all the way from Mozambique, having been promised jobs in Zimbabwe,” said Acropol. “They are bitter that they were used but whatever the case, relevant authorities should take action. It must be known who exactly brought them to Zimbabwe.

“This is shameless. It is bad and criminal enough to bus people from other parts of Zimbabwe, but to outsource voters from outside the country is just weird.”

Charity Charamba, the Zimbabwe Republic Police national spokesperson, said she was not aware of any report relating to the bussed voters but said they would investigate the matter.

The Zvishavane Ngezi constituency where the bussed people are understood to have voted went to Zanu (PF), which won only six out of 26 Midlands parliamentary seats in the 2008 poll, but reclaimed most of them in the recent disputed poll.

Efforts to get a comment from the Registrar of Voters, Tobaiwa Mudede, at the time of going to print were fruitless.

The MDC headed by Morgan Tsvangirai has filed a challenge with the Constitutional Court to have the elections nullified, citing, among other things, voter bussing, suspicious numbers of assisted voters, intimidation, unusual figures of people who voted without appearing on the voters’ roll and the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to avail the voters’ roll in time.

Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu (PF) Secretary for Information and Publicity, dismissed allegations of voter bussing as “unbelievable”.

“Can you believe that voters can be bussed to vote in a ward or constituency where they don’t belong? That’s impossible and those are lies being spread by people who just want to tarnish the image of Zanu (PF). In any case, the issue of the election result is now behind us. We are now concentrating on cabinet training,” he said.

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