ZEC taking us back to Mugabe days, says presidential aspirant

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By William Milasi

BUILD Zimbabwe Alliance presidential candidate, Noah Manyika has accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of attempts to roll the country back to ousted President Robert Mugabe’s controversial era through a bungled police postal voting process which was initially denied by the authority.

Mugabe, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 37 years, was ousted November last year and in came his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa who has received praise for guiding the country through a largely peaceful pre-election period.

The country is set to hold its first ever election without the founding leader on the ballot paper.

Mugabe was seen as an unaccountable leader who used his incumbency to bulldoze through processes all in an attempt to protect his rule.

Under his regime, the country’s election management body was accused of employing brazen tactics to tilt the vote in his favour, the most memorable being the six week delay in the announcement of the 2008 presidential election as it became apparent he had lost to his arch-rival and now late Morgan Tsvangirai.

Only on Thursday, junior police officers were summoned by their superiors to cast their postal ballots amid claims they were voting under the watchful eye of their bosses.

But while this was enough drama, ZEC chief elections officer made things worse when he vehemently denied through an immediate newspaper statement that police ever voted.

He described opposition claims of such as “hogwash” and “propaganda”.

But among those least amazed by the poll management authority’s antics was Manyika, one of the 23 candidates vying for the country’s most influential job, who said ZEC was trying to drag the country back to Mugabe’s era.

Manyika said the country was, “supposed to be past this now after November 2017, but clearly nothing has changed”.

He said ZEC’s credibility to manage the crucial polls to be held in two weeks’ time was questionable.

“Contrary to ZEC’s claims that nothing was going on, the police themselves have confirmed that they have been voting.

“If ZEC did not know that this is going on, there is something terribly wrong as they are the body responsible for the conduct of elections, not the police,” he said.

In his comments, Manyika turned his guns on his opponent and President Emmerson Mnangagwa whom he accused of bloating his security as witnessed in the State leader’s Lupane rally.

After what is suspected to be a bomb blast targeted at Mnangagwa at White City Stadium last month, security appears to have been increased around the Zimbabwean leader.

“Why is it necessary to have the kind of police presence I witnessed in lupine today (Thursday) where ED Mnangagwa is addressing a rally?

“November 2017 is supposed to have ended our days as a police state, but apparently the people of Matabeleland North saw visible reminders that those days can return just like that,” he said.