By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
24 July 2013
Scores of human rights campaigners gathered at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Harare offices Monday and Tuesday, as part of on-going protests against alleged electoral fraud.
The group, all members of the Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Zimbabwe, argues that ZEC lacks the capacity to run a credible election given the chaos and controversy that continue to hound the process.
They further argue that the Commission presided over a flawed voter registration process which has left thousands of people unable to vote in next week’s election.
ROHR President Ephraim Tapa said there are several aspects to the electoral process that they are not happy about.
“This is about the rights of Zimbabweans to vote. Millions of young people and the so-called aliens could not register to vote due to bottlenecks within the system.
“We are also unhappy that 4 million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora were denied the right to vote. So the election has already failed to meet the free and fair threshold if millions at home and abroad are being denied their right to vote,” Tapa said.
Despite growing concerns about the process leading up to the elections, the Commission’s chairperson Rita Makarau insists that all systems are in place for July 31st.
But Tapa remained unconvinced, saying that such pronouncements by the Commission were clearly calculated to back President Robert Mugabe’s calls for an early election.
“What’s been happening on the ground negates what the Commission has been saying that it is prepared to hold a credible election, as the just-concluded Special Vote shows. If they failed to run a small-scale election for less than 100,000 people, what about when 6 million people are involved?
“The registration process was marred by discrepancies but, still, ZEC said they were prepared and ready. So we are saying a discredited process can only lead to a discredited poll result,” Tapa added.
The group says it also wants the Commission to re-open registration until the day before polling to allow every eligible voter to participate.
Leading up to the election, ROHR says its members will be picketing at all ZEC command centres demanding the right to vote.
Protests are also taking place at different venues across the UK, as a way of briefing the international community that ZANU PF will fraudulently win the election, according to Tapa.
On July 31st the group will be joined by rights campaigners Action for Southern Africa and UK labour body, the Trades Union Congress, in a demo to be held outside the Zim Embassy in London. The protesters are expected to hand over a signed petition questioning the legitimacy and credibility of the electoral process.
Additionally, in Ireland, pro-democracy group the Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign will on Thursday conduct a ‘mock vote’ demo outside the City Hall in Belfast.
The group’s coordinator Denford Farai said: “The mock vote will be an illustration of how Zimbabweans abroad have been denied the right by their own government.
“We will meet from 1pm to 8pm. We will also be collecting signatures petitioning the Zim government, through the Embassy in London, to reinstate voting rights for those in the Diaspora,” said Farai.