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Biti: free and fair election not possible! International observers must come now

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THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is deliberately frustrating the people’s right to a free and credible election and as such opposition supporters and leaders will next Tuesday flood the streets for a peaceful march to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZEC offices to press for reforms, Tendai Biti has said on Friday.

“We are now mobilising our supporters out to a demonstration in Harare on the 5th of June to march to ZEC offices to present a document, also to Munhumutapa and then back to Unity Square to be addressed by the leadership.

“It will be a peaceful march in terms of the constitution. Our peaceful discussions have yielded nothing, so we will be flooding the streets on the fifth of June. All of the things we are asking for can be done within a week, if there is political week,” said Biti.

The People’s Democratic Party leader said if the 2018 general election is to be free, credible and transparent the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) must reform and also provide all the contesting parties with a copy of the voters roll.

Addressing a press conference Friday, Biti said ZEC was frustrating Zimbabweans’ right to a free and credible election by refusing to allow them to scrutinise the voters roll and provide them with vital information before the poll.

“We are concerned about veil of secrecy around the company awarded the contract for ballot paper,” said Biti.

He added, “The availability of the voters roll is key to us. Nomination court is to sit on 14th June which means nomination is to take place right now. In terms of the law a candidate can only be nominated by persons whose names are registered and appear on the voters roll yet we as candidates do not have a copy of the voters roll.”

Biti, a prominent lawyer, vowed that as opposition they were not going to allow the situation to continue.

“We are going to say no to this. We want a copy of the voters roll. We are demanding an electronic voters’ roll which is analysable now. We are also demanding an external audit of this voters roll,” he said.

The former finance minister said during inspection there was “fresh registration and also massive transfer of voters from one constituency to another” meaning that another inspection was necessary before the election.

He added, “The audit must establish the legitimacy of the people who are sitting on that voters roll. We want to establish the credibility of this voters roll in comparison with the 2013 voters roll. Our fear is that there 2013 voters’ roll has contaminated the 2018 roll.

We need the external audit to be married with the data in the registrar general’s office to ensure that we do not have phantom voters that have been created.
Because there was fresh registration, we are demanding another inspection – this time candidates, political parties and every Zimbabwean must have access to it.

We are also concerned about polling stations. ZEC has increased polling station unilaterally – this is illegal. Registration was polling station based, to unilaterally change that is a prejudice to the voter who must now scramble to find where they should vote from.”

Biti also demanded the “demilitarisation of the ZEC secretariat”. He said inside ZEC there is a national logistics committee which has been at the centre of rigging adding “we want it disbanded, if not then its composition must be changed.”

He added, “We want complete demilitarisation of the communities. Everywhere we go locals are complaining about machines; these are military folk in civilian clothing”.