More concerns emerge of referendum rigging

April 11, 2013 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

By Alex Bell

There have been more concerns raised that the results of last month’s
constitutional referendum could have been rigged, in what some observers and
analysts believe is a ‘test run’ for the general elections.

The referendum results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
have been questioned by many observers who have said the huge turnout
reported by ZEC does not add up to the actual experience of the day. Civil
society groups and some political parties have also said the results do not
match up to their own research.

The MDC-T’s secretary-general, Tendai Biti, said recently that that
according to his party’s own research, the referendum figures were “tweaked”
by between 10 and 15%. According to Biti, less than the 3.3 million votes
announced by ZEC were actually cast. Speaking at a public discussion in
Harare, Biti expressed the MDC-T’s doubts over the ZEC figures.

“There is a 10 to 15% variance between ZEC’s figures and those collated by
our own team of agents who covered all the polling stations nationally,”
said Biti. The MDC-T however has not released its own figures.

The party’s Treasurer General Roy Bennett told SW Radio Africa last week
that the discrepancies indicate ‘rigging;’ in what he said was a test run by
ZANU PF ahead of the general elections. Bennett said that the ZEC figures
cannot be accurate, because of the “general voter apathy that was
experienced on the day.”

This same apathy has been reported by UK based Zimbabwean activist Ephraim
Tapa, who was in Zimbabwe for an undercover fact finding mission during the
referendum. Tapa, who fled Zimbabwe in 2002 after being abducted and
tortured, said the ZEC results are “of serious concern.”

“A day before the referendum I got to talk to a young man in his
mid-twenties in Mwenezi, Masvingo. He told me that he and the wider
community had never seen the draft constitution let alone read it and that
they had been ordered to vote ‘Yes’ by ZEC. Apart from ZEC they had seen no
one else. He said he would not be voting for something he was not sure of.
These sentiments were echoed by almost everyone I spoke to,” Tapa told SW
Radio Africa.

Tapa also visited a number of polling stations on the day of the referendum
and reported that there was widespread voter apathy.

“Short queues formed in the mid-morning and by the afternoon hardly any were
left. In the following days I was able to ask several households how many
people had voted in the referendum and results indicated widespread apathy.
They stated that they couldn’t vote for something that they were not privy
to,” Tapa said.

He explained that people around the country are “silent” about politics,
because they are afraid of a repeat of the violence experienced in 2008.

“There is silence and there is fear. 2008 with all its violence and
everything about it, that’s what is in their minds. It means that there is
no need for ZANU PF to beat up people this year because people still have
fear in them. 2008 did a lot of damage

Zimbabwe is a cowed nation that is trapped and what is happening now is that
all political players are colluding to normalise a very abnormal situation,”
Tapa said.

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