What to do when there is no Justice

Many people are asking why we went into this election. In the rallies leading up to the election, Morgan Tsvangirai stated repeatedly that no matter what the outcome of the election, it was fraudulent. He knew that for four years Zanu PF had not been sincere about establishing the conditions for a free and fair poll. Instead they had been working feverishly behind closed doors to manipulate the conditions under which the elections would be held and flatly refused to implement the measures requir

This was a “do or die” exercise for them knowing that in 2008 they had been beaten by a much weaker MDC and simply could not stand up to a genuine electoral process in any form. Not one of the reforms demanded and agreed under the Global Political Agreement were implemented. Instead they repeatedly tried to conjure up justification for a snap election where the MDC would have to meet them on the electoral battlefield under the conditions they needed to be able to deliver a result at will.

They first tried this in 2010, then repeatedly through 2011, 2012 before finally getting what they wanted through the use of a Supreme Court bench that was totally subverted and under their direct control and direction. The ambush was carefully planned – they waited until the end of the life of the Parliament and Presidential tenure in June and then secured a decision by the Constitutional Court to the effect that the elections had to be held on the 31st July. MDC protested as did all the other political parties and a joint approach was made to the SADC to demand the full implementation of agreed electoral reforms and for this purpose, an extension to the poll date to allow the changes to take place.

A second session of the Constitutional Court was held where these demands were brushed aside and the SADC leadership felt that nothing more could be done to get the necessary reforms put in place.

And so Zimbabwe went into an election which was firstly, illegal in terms of our own laws and the principles that under pinned the GPA which was designed to help us resolve our deep seated difficulties. The President then used a piece of legislation that he should not have used under the new constitution to ram through the required electoral regulations that would govern the election itself. He did that in 2005 to give him conditions that clearly distorted the subsequent electoral process. In the process they disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of citizens who had voted in earlier elections.

This was followed by a totally flawed and manipulated voter registration exercise which left over a million young urban voters unregistered and denying voter rights to hundreds of thousands of people classified under the previous constitution as “aliens”.

Then we discovered that they had employed an Israeli firm “Nikov” to assist with the manipulation of the voters roll. This had been taken from the Registrar Generals Office to the Military Headquarters in Harare and despite strenuous efforts we were unable to get a copy of the roll until about six weeks before the poll and the voter registration exercise. An analysis of this version of the roll revealed huge discrepancies – hundreds of thousands of dead voters, voters moved out of their electoral Districts, altered registration numbers, half a million duplicated names with genuine ID numbers. 73 Constituencies had more voters than population. The agency responsible for the analysis met with the Electoral Commission and then wrote to them raising these matters on the 22nd and the 24th of June, with no response or explanation. To date we have not been given access to the roll in digital form despite Court orders and a clear constitutional obligation.

The entire electoral process was fraught with irregularities and illegal aspects – ballot papers were printed in a factory linked to the Police and in total secrecy. Millions of ballot papers are unaccounted for in the process. Immediately before the poll, rumors swept the country that the pens used in the polling stations would fade after use leaving the ballot paper blank. Then an even more specific allegation that some of the ballots had been printed in Israel on special paper that would automatically erase the original marks and create a cross against the vote for Mugabe. In a recent e mail, I received a note from a person who had worked in the industry for 30 years and who claimed that this was possible.

The law states quite clearly that no voter shall vote unless they are on the voters roll – ZEC allowed hundreds of thousands to vote on “Interim Voter Registration Slips” – backdated and circulated in blank form to all Districts well before the ballot.

When the special ballot was organised for those officials who would be on duty on the day, applications were made for more than double the theoretical numbers involved and thousands of young Police “recruits” – probably from Militia Camps tried to vote – leading to an illegal extension of voting and even then the ZEC tried to get those denied the special vote, the right to vote on the day – a right that many exercised opening, the possibility of duplicate voting throughout the country. To date no reconciliation has been made available of either ballots or special votes.

Then on the day they allowed 200 000 people to vote under assistance and 400 000 people who had voted in previous elections were denied the right to vote. Traditional leaders in all areas supervised their people before and after voting reinforced by threats that if villages voted MDC, the war would resume, or the armed forces would mete out retribution.

Finally, informal polling stations sprouted up in many areas and in addition polling agents and even observers were intimidated and driven out of targeted areas. In one Constituency in the midlands we have confirmed 14000 false ballots for the position of President.

Under the new dispensation we had very little time to mount an objection to the Poll and we submitted our challenge to the presidential ballot on Friday the 9th of August. Under the new Constitution this Court hearing is described as a trial. We expected therefore to call experts and actual witnesses as well as physical evidence gleaned from the ballot boxes that had been sealed on the day of the vote. These are all in Harare under the control of ZEC.

To get access we needed the Electoral Court to rule that we should be given access to the boxes and their contents. On the 14th of August the Court sat and the Judge declared that he was “reserving judgment indefinitely”. The day before this decision the Chief Justice declared that the hearing of the Constitutional Court to decide on the merits of our challenge to the presidential ballot would not hear witnesses or live evidence but would be based solely on the material contained in our original petition to the Court.

It was clear to us at that juncture that we could not expect justice in any form from our Courts. That the hearing on the 17th August (an unheard of practice where the entire Bench would sit on a Saturday morning) would simply be a repeat of the Court hearing in July when it was used to tie the hands of the SADC and force through the snap election. We met as a National Executive and resolved to deny them the right to abuse our system for political ends and leave the planned summit of regional leaders hands free to decide on the elections on a purely political basis. Late on Friday afternoon we withdrew our challenge to the presidential ballot.

Now SADC leaders have met and have ruled (as expected) that the ballot was acceptable. Nothing now stands in the way of Zanu PF to swear in Mugabe for his 7th term in office. It’s a sick joke – the whole thing, in my view it ranks with the standing ovation given to Idi Amin by the AU when he was committing genocide in Uganda and eventually had to be driven into exile by a military invasion from Tanzania. It’s no wonder the rest of the world finds it difficult to take us seriously.

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