By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
15 July, 2014
A new report by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Zimbabwe (CCJPZ) has strongly criticized the way last year’s elections were conducted by the Mugabe regime, warning that electoral, media and security sector reforms are needed to avoid future polls from resembling the 2008 and 2013 fiasco.
Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF declared a “landslide victory” over Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T in the July 2013 elections, after refusing to implement the changes that were agreed to in the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which created the coalition government.
According to the CCJP many irregularities were reported by several constituencies, especially in remote rural areas where villagers were threatened by traditional leaders and ordered to vote for “certain parties”, a veiled reference to ZANU PF.
“How can some traditional leaders deprive other community members of food or any other humanitarian aid because they support certain political parties?” the report said. The CCJP also points to the many voters who were told to fake illiteracy in order to be assisted to vote by pre-determined officials.
Jacob Mafume, spokesperson for the opposition MDC-T Renewal Team, agreed with the Catholic Commission’s findings and conclusions, saying any attempt to have future elections without major reforms in Zimbabwe would be tantamount ‘to putting lipstick on a frog’ and allowing further fraud and theft.
“We need the new Constitution, which contains many of the things agreed in the GPA, to be implemented. We need ZEC to take the voters roll from Tobaiwa Mudede’s office and institutionalise many of these reforms then we can participate in elections,” Mafume said.
Asked why the MDC-T had taken part in last year’s election without these crucial reforms that they now demand, Mafume said some of their colleagues within the party believed that “miracles would occur” even though it was “clear certain fundamentals had not occurred. Differences in approach intensified and led to a split in the party.
Mafume also explained that the elections were rushed into by ZANU PF just three months after the new Constitution was adopted. In Kenya they waited three years before elections were held after a new constituion. This gave time for legislative changes and electoral reforms to be implemented.
The CCJP has been known to speak the truth in the face of power in Zimbabwe, especially when their report on the Gukurahundi massacres in the 1980’s exposed the 5th Brigade’s murderous activities in Matabeleland.
Bishop Alex Muchabaiwa is now the CCJP chairperson in Zimbabwe and one of the authors of the report.
“It might not be far from the truth if we say some people voted in July 2013 elections to save their lives, limbs and property. They wanted to avoid a repeat of 2008”, Bishop Muchabaiwa wrote.
Muchabaiwa described the 2008 polls as “one of the worst scenarios in Zimbabwe’s electoral history”, and warned that reforms are critical to avoid a repeat of past mistakes.