Masvingo – President Robert Mugabe is a dictator who has been at the helm of this country for 36 years and his dictatorial tendencies can be put to an end, not through negotiations, but only by confrontation, civic organisations and opposition political parties said during a meeting facilitated by Election Resource Centre at a local hotel last week.
Civic groups and opposition political parties unanimously agreed that Mugabe and his Zanu PF have been rigging elections in the past elections through brutal force, use of state apparatus like the army, police and the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) as well as appointing these former officers into powerful Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) positions across the country,
Speaking during the meeting, Masvingo Residents Trust leader Prosper Tiringindi said nothing fruitful will come out of negotiations but Mugabe can give in only if he is confronted.
"If we really want electoral reforms, why would you opt for negotiations with a dictator? If you enter into a negotiation, it will be a mere talk show. Even when they (Zanu PF) dealt with Smith, they had to confront him so who are we today to change tactics when approaching a dictator? We must be bold enough to face whatever it takes to force electoral reforms," said Tiringindi.
Civic groups also said ZEC needs an overhaul before other electoral reforms are implemented if before the 2018 general elections or else Zanu PF will continue to rig elections.
"Election rigging will never be dealt with if ZEC officers are not replaced. People filling those posts have been in the rigging game for quite long and many of them are former members of the army, police and CIO. Mugabe has been using these state apparatus to rig elections and we are saying this should come to an end. We want election reforms before 2018 elections as well as ZEC overhaul," said one participant.
Zimbabwe People First representative Jefferyson Chitando also brought another dimension and proposed that government should abolish 'special vote' and replace it with postal vote.
"Special votes is one major technique used by Zanu PF to rig elections. Speaking from scenarios we witnessed in 2013, numbers from the register never tallied with ballot papers that were casted. There are a lot of inconsistences when it comes to special votes," said Chitando.
Another Zim PF member Frank Badza added; "When the security sector goes to cast votes, they monitor themselves. Why can't they be monitored normally just like any ordinary voter? Those guys in security camps are even deprived their right to secret ballot as they vote on directives. This even include their families. It should also be noted that they are prone to vote twice as no security ink is put on them to show they have voted. This whole system is rot and we want electoral reforms before 2018 elections."
MDC – T representatives present also concurred that postal votes are easier to work with when it comes to accountability than special votes.
"People should know that the major rigging technique used by Zanu PF in 2013 was the special vote. It should be abolished. Special vote ballot boxes were transported from camps and only police and ZEC were monitoring them. Who then knows if the boxes were not tempered with along the way? Monitors are also not involved in transporting the votes to their final destination in Harare, who again knows what happens to them along the way," questioned the MDC – T district chairperson Murangamwa Chanyau.news