OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change Alliance presidential candidate Mr Nelson Chamisa’s threat to usurp the powers of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and contravene the Electoral Act by unilaterally announcing results of the July 30 harmonised elections is regrettable and unfortunate as it goes against the basic tenets of a democratic electoral process and undermines State institutions created by the Constitution — the supreme law of the land.
The youthful politician’s ill-advised move is not only treasonous but has potential to destabilise the country and torch anarchy. Mr Chamisa, who is increasingly getting jittery and panicky ahead of the make or break plebiscite, told his party’s supporters during a demonstration in Harare against Zec on Wednesday that he was ready to break the electoral law by announcing the results before the elections management body does so.
The Electoral Act indicates that only Zec has the mandate to announce election results through its chief elections officer within five days of polling.
“We are going for elections and we have already won,” said Mr Chamisa. “After voting, we will converge at a place and announce the election (results) to you. We are going to tell you the election results because we do not trust Zec to announce accurate results. It is us who are going to announce and we have set up the machinery in here and outside the country to tabulate the results,” he said.
Mr Tendai Biti, then MDC-T secretary general, was arrested in 2008 for announcing unofficial presidential results in which he claimed the late Mr Morgan Tsvangirai had won by 50,3 percent to obviate a run-off. Mr Tsvangirai resoundingly lost the run-off.
Government has taken measures to ensure that the harmonised elections, due in just over two weeks, are free, fair and credible. Zec has been acceding to a plethora of demands from the opposition, particularly the MDC Alliance, to ensure the playing field is levelled. What has been disconcerting is the unreasonableness of the Alliance as it has been coming up with fresh demands at every turn.
Zec has been transparent in its dealings with all political parties and invited them to observe the printing of ballot papers a few weeks ago. Despite attending the event, the MDC Alliance still cried foul and complained that it was not allowed to actually print the ballots themselves so that they could be satisfied that there was chicanery going on.
At Wednesday’s demonstration, Mr Chamisa said they had trimmed their litany of demands against Zec from 10 to two because the other eight were frivolous.
“We had 10 demands but we have decided to shelve the other demands because they don’t matter,” he said. “We have an issue on the voters’ roll and the ballot paper. We should agree on the ballot paper. We have said if you want to proceed with the elections without consensus that election will not be held.
(Zec chairperson) Justice Priscilla Chigumba is just a front for Zanu-PF. (President) Mnangagwa is behind the rigging plot.”
Mr Chamisa also claimed, without a shred of evidence, that the Government had brought in Russians to assist Zanu-PF to win the elections but his party would counter that using German scientists. “They (Zec and Zanu-PF) want to change the ballot paper,” he said. “Right now they have Russians. I am being told by insiders and soldiers. I am watching them and if they are helping Zanu-PF on elections then we have an issue with that. Sovereignty of the country doesn’t allow to have foreigners coming to interfere with our electoral processes. We are taking up that matter and we are not going to budge.”
Either Mr Chamisa is naïve and excitable or both because his pronouncements regarding the possible rigging of elections in Zimbabwe are getting ridiculous by the day. With reckless and churlish advisors such as Mr Biti, it is not surprising that the MDC leader has been lurching from one gaffe to another. His threat to make the country ungovernable if the Alliance’s demands are not met is not only dangerous and ill-advised but might spell doom for his political career as Zimbabweans will not sit idly by while he crashes and burns their country to satisfy his ego.
The pre-election environment has been peaceful so far and it is irresponsible of Mr Chamisa to threaten chaos and anarchy just a few days before the polls.
We appeal to him to refrain from making inflammatory statements that are likely to cause alarm and despondency in the country. That era long passed with the resignation of former President Mr Robert Mugabe and Zimbabweans are now in a new dispensation where such demagoguery is frowned upon.
As a pastor and man of God, Mr Chamisa should introspect and ask himself if he is willing to take the country down a dark path of violence and mayhem.
Does he really want to stop the march towards economic prosperity? If the answer is NO then he should stop his juvenile rantings and political grandstanding.