Felex Share Senior Reporter
THe MDC Alliance has resorted to dirty tactics of littering the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) with frivolous court applications, despite successfully contributing in recent amendments to the Electoral Act which brought the changes they are now contesting, The Herald has learnt.
It emerged yesterday that the two MDCs led by Mr Nelson Chamisa and Professor Welshman Ncube successfully caused changes to more than 10 Sections of the Electoral Act, some of which they are now exerting pressure on ZEC to disregard.
President Mnangagwa signed the Electoral Amendment Act on May 28 this year.
MDC-T chief whip Mr Innocent Gonese and MDC-N’s then representative Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga made extensive contributions which saw a lot of sections being amended in the Act.
The pair was instrumental in the amendment of Section 4 of the electoral law, with Mr Gonese taking a leading role in changes made to sections 18, 20, 21, 35, 40, 56, 59 and 133.
The whole of section 171 was amended at the behest of Mr Gonese.
Mr Gonese, for instance, pushed for the insertion of sub-section 4(a) which confirms the independence of ZEC by giving the electoral body the leeway to prepare and keep the voters’ roll.
The amendment reads: “4(a) The Commission my prepare and maintain, in printed or electronic form, and a consolidated national voters roll and a consolidated voters roll for any constituency or ward . . .”
MDC Alliance has been accused of interfering by such powers vested in ZEC by the Electoral Amendment Act through demands meant to take away the powers vested in the electoral body to be the custodian of the voters roll.
Observers have said it is surprising that some of the so-called electoral demands being raised by MDC Alliance against ZEC were arising from the amendments which the opposition parties themselves sponsored.
Sources yesterday said the MDC Alliance, in a bid to stop the July 30 harmonised elections in fear of defeat, was now littering ZEC with several writs in a bid to paralyse the independent electoral body.
The plot, which involves Veritas, a non-governmental organisation, is a well calculated bid by the alliance to find a dignified way of pulling out of the polls.
The new tact is a departure from ‘rolling demonstrations’ which the alliance had initially proposed.
Sources said the pact, led by Mr Chamisa, had realised that demonstrations put them on the wrong side of the law, as they would be construed as seeking to overrun ZEC, a constitutional body which they created.
“Their new approach is now to clutter ZEC with writs so that they use the court system to paralyse the independent electoral body,” said one source.
“What this does is it allows them to push for their non-legal objectives through what appears like a legal route. To enhance deniability in the event of a setback or heavy criticism, as indeed happened after their demonstrations, they have decided to use a vehicle called Veritas, which in reality is MDC Alliance incognito. But the overall objective is to opt out of the electoral process while keeping a dignified face.”
The alliance is also reportedly counting on two reports produced by a group of American researchers from Centre for Global Development (CGD) calling on President Mnangagwa to use his powers to write a new electoral law.
The reports, one which has been given to the Zimbabwean embassy in Washington, garbles MDC arguments without even testing them against the legal framework that governs elections in Zimbabwe.
The activist researchers were led by Mr Tedd Moss and one Alexander Noyes, two activists who have been on an anti-Zanu-PF drive since 2013.
“The two came as so called experts on Zimbabwe, underpinning a group of ex-American ambassadors who were in the country recently,” said another source.
“This group has since produced two reports one of which was given to the Zimbabwean embassy in Washington and another presented to some American civil society group. Interestingly, both submissions garbled the MDC arguments without even testing these against the legal framework that governs elections in this country.
“Even more absurdly, the reports talk about 99-year leases on land as if these have any bearing on the electoral process and then in the end, the report calls on the President to act on ZEC or to use presidential powers to write a new electoral law.”
The source added: ‘’It’s a blatant instigation on the President to act in a lawless manner for as long as such an action favours American interests or interests of their protégés as interpreted by these two researchers. ZEC is insulated against undue influence from any quarter, whether individual or institutional.
“It is a creature of the Constitution. Law making is a prerogative of Parliament which in any case has discharged its responsibility by creating the Electoral Act in the first place and then amending it at the behest of the opposition. It thus makes no sense to ask the President to use his powers to overwrite laws he has assented to, only about 10 working days ago.
“What this all shows is a less balanced assessment of the electoral environment and more a bias and affinity for the opposition. Even more worrisome is the conclusion of the report which categorically states that elections will not be free and fair and this on an extra-judicial premise.”
Messrs Moss and Noyes have been trying to work against Zanu-PF in the past years under British think tanks.
“Now that the British establishment has a different attitude towards Zimbabwe, these two activist scholars have decided to cross the Atlantic to find succour to their anti-Zanu-PF politics within the American establishment,” said the source.