Zimbabwe?s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is accusing incumbent President Robert Mugabe?s government of a calculated plot to rig this Saturday general elections. This comes after the MDC claims it received leaked government reports suggesting that over nine million ballot papers have been ordered for the country's 5.9 million registered voters. But Zimbabwe?s electoral Commission dismissed the opposition?s rigging allegations saying that Saturday?s elections would be free and fair.
Gordon Moyo is the executive director of the Bulawayo project, a non-governmental civic organization. From the commercial capital, Bulawayo he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the government is engaging in unfair tactics ahead of the elections.
?The government is sending contradicting messages. They?ve told us that six million Zimbabweans have been registered as voters for the year 2008, presidential, parliamentary, senatorial and local government. Surprisingly, we are also told that nine million ballot papers have been printed. This is a cause for concern for analysts, and this is a cause for concern for the opposition because there is no reason at all to print more than six million ballots when there are six million registered voters,? Moyo said.
He said President Mugabe government aims to win the upcoming elections at all cost.
?Traditionally, if there are six million voters, we are likely to have slightly above three million people actually casting their votes. Why would the government print more ballot papers than registered voters? This is a clear mechanism of manipulation. And the MDC is dead right,? he pointed out.
Moyo dismissed as baseless the chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission?s pronouncements that the general elections would be credible.
?Those are mere statements. They are not tending to reality. On the ground, what we are seeing a situation whereby more ballot papers are being printed. We?ve heard statements from the police and from Mugabe himself, now no election can be free and fair when you are ordering the military and the security agencies to vote for the incumbent. It is clear that this government is planning and is even implementing manipulating strategies,? Moyo noted.
He said the opposition parties find themselves in a very tight position ahead of the elections.
?Yes the odds are against them, but that is not a reason for them [opposition] to give up. Although the odds are against the opposition, the opposition has the people. The people power against state machinery and they have to make sure that all their polling agents are present at all times and are reporting. There is no time for sleeping now; I think it?s time for everyone to be vigilant. For the media they should also be vigilant and tell what is happening in Zimbabwe.
Moyo urged both local and international observers to be vigilant in the general elections.
?It is very critical for the observers, external observers and local observers to keep a close eye on those polling booths because the government is planning manipulating the elections,? Moyo noted.