With just a week to go before Zimbabwe?s parliamentary and presidential election, the war of words between the ruling ZANU-PF Party and the opposition over the conduct of the poll is becoming more intense. The Zimbabwe government says the March 29 elections will be free and fair, but in the latest accusation, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says Zimbabwe?s voter register is filled with tens of thousands of ghost voters.
Citing independent investigations, Tsvangirai told a news conference Thursday that 90,000 names appearing on the voter register for 28 rural constituencies could not be accounted for.
Nelson Chamissa is spokesman for the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC. From Harare, he told VOA the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been manipulating the voter?s register.
?What the president was simply trying to say was that the current voter register is in shamble, that it?s not possible for us to have a free and fair election. In fact from the analysis done by independent analysts in about 20 constituencies, it?s clear that there has been rigging. There?s been a margin of error of over 40 percent where you find that the numbers that have been produced by ZEC, that is the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, are at times 20,000. For example, you find that the actual number of people who are in the constituency will be about 30,000. So they have really played around with the voter?s roll,? he said.
Chamissa accused the ZEC of printing 9 million ballot papers when in fact he said there are only 5.9 million voters on the commission?s voter register. He said MDC has petitioned the courts to force the ZEC to explain the difference.
?Why they printed those ballot papers nobody knows, and we have since written to the courts; we have since written to ZEC to justify and explain why they exceeded the number of people who are appearing on the voter?s roll because under normal circumstances perhaps half of the population of 5.9 is going to vote,? Chamissa said.
In his news conference Thursday, Tsvangirai also reportedly threatened to pull out of the elections if the ZEC went ahead with plans to count the presidential ballots at a separate venue rather than at polling stations where other3 votes would be counted.
Chamissa denied that Tsvangirai had threatened to pull out of the elections.
?He said that he is not going to endorse neither is he going to support any process which is going to cause problem, which is going to lead to a day light robbery of the people?s verdict and manipulation of the people?s will. And that is very consistent with what we have already said that we are not willing to be partners in a charade which is going to result in a subversion of the people?s wish,? Chamissa said.
Tsvangirai also reportedly said at his Thursday news conference that election observers invited by the Zimbabwe government could be bias. Chamissa said the MDC is uncomfortable with President Mugabe?s selection of who can observe the election and who cannot.
?Mugabe has chosen friends, and he has openly said that he is going to invite people who are friendly to his regime. Clearly that is our source of discomfort. We are not in any way willing to have selective invitation of observers. If this process is credible, then why invite people whom you think are your friends? Friends cannot tell you the truth, friends cannot be credible, cannot be objective, and that is the point the president was trying to stress, he said.
Chamissa said the MDC would win the March 29 poll and that the campaign of former finance minister Simba Makoni would not make a difference.
?In fact Mugabe is panicking because he realizes that the writing is on the wall. The mood for change in the country is really unbelievable, and Mr. Tsvangirai is way ahead in terms of polls. Clearly Mugabe is behind; ZANU-PF is buried. They are only be saved by rigging. The support for Mr. Tsvangirai is total; the support for MDC is absolute, and there is no way Mugabe is going to win this election. This election is going to be won by the MDC. But of course this is why we want to vaccinate our process against any possible danger of rigging and manipulation,? Chamissa said.