29 July 2013

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Calls On ZEC to Resign

Six-million Zimbabweans have reportedly registered to cast their vote in the country's general elections on Wednesday. ( Resource: Contentious Zimbabwe Elections Draw Millions of Voters

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Monday he doesn't trust the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to conduct free and fair elections on Wednesday and called for the commission's resignation.

Speaking to more than 50,000 supporters at his last rally in downtown Harare, Tsvangirai said he feared the same vote-rigging that marred previous violent and disputed elections in 2008.

He said ZEC had shown its lack of preparedness after chaos marked early voting on July 14 and 15 for uniformed services on duty July 31.

"We are on the eve of the elections yet, as a presidential candidate I have not received a copy of the voters roll," he said.

"As a party we don't know who is printing the ballot papers and the number being printed. Repeated efforts to get information which, at law, we should be given have been in vain. My chief election agent, Senator Morgan Komichi, is in court because of ZEC's incompetence.

"It is clear that is either complicit or has abdicated responsibility to other forces. If ZEC is not up to the task then they should resign. The credibility of this election lies in ZEC.

"We appointed them with the hope that they will run credible elections. But as we move closer to the election, it is clear they are not up to the task.

"I want to state here, Gentleman and Ladies at ZEC, if you are not the ones responsible for this mess then just do the honourable thing: Go!

He added: "This is not a threat but for a long time the people of this country have been shortchanged with the manner elections have been conducted.

"I am sending this message 'don't do it again'. I respect national institutions. I respect ZEC if they are doing their work properly. But I will not respect the deliberate attempt to subvert the will of the people."

Tsvangirai, 61, faces President Robert Mugabe, 89, and two other minor candidates in presidential polls.

He warned of political unrest if people are turned away from the polls and if rigging is suspected.

"There is potential of unrest if people are not given chance to vote and results don't reflect their will," Tsvangirai told The Associated Press

Later Monday, head of the state Electoral Commission, Judge Rita Makarau, defended the electoral body and said it was ready to hold to credible elections.

Makarau said the commission has established 9, 735 polling stations across the country. She said the printing of ballot papers, one day away from voting, is now "99 percent complete" and voters' lists are being dispatched to the provinces.

Polling stations will be open until everyone in line has cast their ballot, she said.

"It is our duty to serve everyone. No voter will be turned away," Makarau said.

Tsvangirai told his supporters on Monday that "Zimbabweans have been short-changed" by the way polls were being administered by the electoral body.

"No one will get away with stealing from the people," he said.

The elections on Wednesday will be the Tsvangirai's third attempt at the nation's presidency since 2002.

He claims Mugabe rigged the elections contested by him. The disputed and violent poll in 2008 led to an acrimonious coalition with Mugabe that was brokered by the leaders of neighbouring countries.

"Mugabe lost in 2008 but found a way to come back through the back door, but this time there will be no coalition," Tsvangirai said.

About 13,210 election observers have been accredited to monitor the vote, some 800 of them from neighbouring African counties and the continent-wide African Union headed by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, a respected African elder statesman, according to electoral commission chair Makarau.

She said ballots will be counted at polling stations and will be displayed outside each voting post.

All polling officials were expected to be "firm on the ground" by the end of Tuesday.

No campaigning is allowed Tuesday, the day before the national vote.

Cross over gathering ... Morgan Tsvangirai greets supporters at Monday's rally

Confident of victory ... Game over, an MDC-T supporters tells Zanu PF

Meeting ... Tsvangirai met AU mission chief Olusegun Obasanjo before his rally

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