OPPOSITION MDC Alliance presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa has threatened a national shutdown and to stop the holding of general elections this year if the Zanu PF government ignores his party’s demands for a neutral supplier of ballot papers.
Addressing thousands of his Zimbabwean supporters in the British city of Bedford on Sunday, Chamisa accused the ruling party of seeking to circumvent the issue, arguing that the identity of ballot papers’ suppliers was a closely-guarded State security matter.
Opposition parties have tabled a number of demands, among them de-militarisation of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s secretariat, security of the vote and transparency in the production of ballot papers ahead of elections expected in a few months’ time.
“(Justice minister Ziyambi) Ziyambi claimed it’s a security matter, but we are working on that,” Chamisa said, rubbishing reports that he was mulling a boycott of the polls.
“We approached our Zanu PF counterparts and told them we will not be duped again.
“We needed to know who the printers of the ballots are, so we approached the Justice minister and demanded that we have one printer with political parties there to ensure the security of the ballot, as was the case in other countries like Kenya and Malawi.
“People have said Chamisa has threatened to boycott elections if there is no agreement on a proper ballot. We will not boycott elections, but I have told (Zanu PF leader, President Emmerson) Mnangagwa that there will be no election without a proper ballot [paper].
“We have the people and if we make the call, the country will come to a standstill and that we can do.
“We are not joking about this. It is a matter of life and death.
“We will not go into an election without an agreement on what type of election we are going to have. We still have three months, but there must be political will.
“Mnangagwa does not have the will to deliver a free and fair election because he knows we will humiliate him.”
Chamisa’s sentiments were reiterated by other top MDC-T officials, who told journalists in Harare that the party had the machinery to destabilise the elections.
“This time around, 2018 elections are only going to happen if our demands are met. We will make it impossible for elections to take place . . . there will be no elections without reforms, President Mnangagwa has made a commitment to Zimbabweans [and] to the whole world that he wants to preside over a free, fair and credible elections. We cannot go into the same election that we experienced in 2013. We will not do that. We will not betray Zimbabweans, we will not betray you,” MDC-T chairperson, Morgen Komichi said
“On media reforms, it’s one area that ED has failed. They are actually worse than (former President Robert) Mugabe. We demand fairness in that area and we want that to be addressed.
“Zec is staffed with former soldiers.
“If you check with Zec, every provincial centre is manned or headed by a former soldier.
“At the head office, there are more than 13 soldiers that are working for Zec and we demand that that should be dealt with, that be corrected and Zec becomes independent.”
MDC-T secretary for elections, Murisi Zwizwai, said the printing of ballot papers should be done in a transparent tender system.
“These are trust issues. Fidelity Printers (and Refiners) is the home of crooks, they can’t be trusted by anyone in the world even to print stationery,” he said.
“Why should they be trusted with ballot papers?”
Chamisa said he was optimistic of thumping Mnangagwa if elections were held in a free atmosphere.
He said Mnangagwa, who came to power after Mugabe stepped down last November, could have earned himself a modicum of legitimacy had he pushed for a transitional government to jumpstart the economy before throwing the country into a destabilising election mode.
“Mnangagwa missed an opportunity after November 18  and concentrated on the wrong priorities.
“He should have called (late MDC-T leader, Morgan) Tsvangirai, (former Vice-President Joice) Mujuru, even though she does not have support, and icons like (Zapu leader) Dumiso Dabengwa to the table and structured a transitional narrative.
“We would have agreed on a timeframe [for the transition]. Now, they are at the deep end and have no capacity (to turn around the economy).
“We do not have a cash problem in Zimbabwe, but we have a crisis of confidence. A trust deficit and these are the things we should resolve,” the MDC-T leader said.
Chamisa also took pot-shots at MDC-T break-away faction leader, Thokozani Khupe.
“I met chiefs and community leaders in Matabeleland, who have asked me to unite the party. But they have urged us not to waste time with nonentities.
“Khupe will not be a factor in this election,” he said.
Chamisa said Zimbabwe had governance issues, arguing Mugabe had been reduced to a faction leader.
He said the government should apologise and compensate victims of the Gukurahundi atrocities that reportedly claimed the lives of over 20 000 people in Midlands and Matabeleland provinces in the early 1980s.
Meanwhile, Chamisa had to be escorted by British police from the Bedford rally on Sunday, as his supporters mobbed him.
“The British police had to be called in to escort us out of the venue coz (sic) the people couldn’t let us leave the venue out of genuine love.
“People kept on demanding more,” he wrote on Facebook.