ZIMBABWE is heading for elections next Monday and opposition political parties are piling pressure on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to reform the electoral roadmap ahead of polling day. On the other hand, the ruling Zanu PF party has somehow been quiet, raising suspicion that it was conniving with Zec to rig the elections. Last Friday, the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance tabled its key conditions to Zec, saying if these remained unresolved by Monday next week, they would make it impossible to hold the elections.
The demands will be discussed tomorrow under the auspices of the multi-party liaison committee. Our senior reporter Obey Manayiti (ND) at the weekend had a chat with Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (PM), and below are excerpts of the interview.
ND: As Zanu PF, you have been participating in the multi-party liaison committee meetings with other political formations, what do you make of the demands by the MDC Alliance?
PM: No. These demands came to us as a surprise. We have been involved in interparty dialogue and I have been leading the Zanu PF team and these dialogues started almost four years ago. The three political parties represented in Parliament meet once every week and these particular demands never came to the agenda. We were actually taken by surprise.
ND: What is the nature of their demands?
PM: They are saying they want to test the ballot papers, they want to escort the trucks that move the ballot papers to the polling stations and they want to test the quality of the paper itself and its scientific composition.
They have not come out clearly why they are making those demands, but we suspect that they think the X put as a sign of voting can mutate from one box to another. In other words, if you vote for Zanu PF that vote can move to the box where MDC Alliance is or vice versa.
This is why they say they want to test the ink and the paper to see whether if they put an X in a particular box, it will remain there. I think this belief can only be based on superstition more than science.
They have not proven to us that this is possible and where it has ever happened in the world.
ND: So you mean you have never heard of a situation whereby votes mutate? That has been the same allegation in 2013
PM: Scientifically, it has never happened anywhere. There is a level of superstition that is acceptable in the living world, but this level of superstition is completely unreasonable.
Votes cannot move, otherwise people can stop writing examinations if, when writing exams, answers move to another candidate. That is what they are saying and it has never happened anywhere.
ND: They (MDC Alliance) are alleging that Zanu PF is conniving with Zec to rig the elections. What is your comment?
PM: That is completely hogwash. It is untrue. Zec is an independent body and we meet with Zec at the same time with other political parties. We don’t hold private meetings with members of Zec.
In fact, Zec itself in terms of composition, except for the chairperson, was appointed by the Standing Orders and Rules of Parliament, which is a multi-party committee of Parliament and the leader of MDC Alliance, Nelson Chamisa, is a member of that committee and is the one who participated in the setting up of Zec.
For them to turn around and say Zec is an extension of Zanu PF is completely hogwash and untrue.
ND: Do you fear the elections? Why is there suspicion that you will connive to steal the elections?
PM: Zanu PF is the people’s party. We liberated this party with the participation of the citizenry and we have been managing the affairs of the people and giving them a clear direction, and we are moving with the people and have no fear whatsoever.
We don’t have any fear. We have our very popular leader and we have popular policies, and we are taking Zimbabwe to the right direction and the people love our leader. We don’t fear and we don’t need to have witchcraft in order to win the elections.
We are going to win the elections on the basis of the popularity of our party, policies and leader.
ND: On Tuesday you will be going for a multi-party liaison meeting where MDC Alliance is pushing through its demands. What is your position as Zanu PF and do you also have your own set of demands?
PM: We don’t see the reason behind the demands and we have said to them, we are not the final arbiter and we are saying make your demands and Zec will make a decision. However, we are saying Zec is staffed with men and women of integrity.
ND: The Elders Council issued a statement with regards to making unreasonable demands at this juncture. There are reports that you might have influenced them to say that. What is your comment?
PM: Zanu PF coaching Koffi Annan, the former secretary general of the UN? Zanu PF coaching Mrs Robertson, the former Prime Minister of Ireland? Zanu PF having that capacity to influence such eminent people? We don’t have the capacity to influence such eminent people.
These are people of integrity and are respected internationally. They are simply being objective and that in this modern- day world you cannot base your demands on witchcraft. Basically, MDC Alliance believes in witchcraft but we are not sorcerers.
We will request the MDC-T to move to the modern scientific world and let’s continue with the elections. The people of Zimbabwe can judge a good leader, a poor leader, a childish leader and I think some of those demands are purely childish.
ND: The MDC Alliance has been threatening to boycott the elections or picket at Zec offices and disrupt everything if their demands are not met. Will you go ahead with the elections as Zanu PF if one of the main contenders pulls out?
PM: MDC Alliance cannot hold Zimbabwe at ransom. They don’t own Zimbabwe. They are a voluntary organisation which exists on the basis of volition. If they decide that they will not participate in the elections, it’s their choice, but we will continue with the elections.
They don’t own this country, nobody owns this country and no political party owns this country. We hold elections with those organisations which volunteers to participate.
There is no requirement in this country for the registration of political parties in order to exist and so if today the MDC decides they don’t want to exist, it’s up to them. If they decide that they are turning themselves into a football club, it’s up to them, if they choose to be a political party that participates in elections, it’s again up to them.
Let them make a choice in the same manner they chose to exist. If they decide that they are now politically irrelevant, Zimbabwe will not stop moving because of that. We will continue holding the elections.
If they choose to disrupt, we have structures of the law in our country and they will act accordingly. If anyone attempts to disrupt these elections, the law will deal with them.
Let the people of Zimbabwe be assured that the government has the capacity to maintain law and order.