Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) claims that Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which is in charge of running the general election on 23 August, is playing dirty games to minimise the CCC’s chances of winning.
The CCC says CIO planted double candidates for the party in parliamentary and local municipality elections across the nation through Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ), which recently publicised its affiliation with the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
On 22 June, the CCC’s deputy spokesperson Gift Ostallos Siziba tweeted that FAZ had ‘created fake signatures for candidates to be registered under CCC without our approval’. He said the correct list of CCC candidates had been provided to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
We know that FAZ has fraudulently created fake signatures for candidates to be registered under CCC without our approval. ZEC has our letter with official signatories designated to sign on behalf of CCC. We have not signed for any double Candidate anywhere. It’s criminal, it’s… pic.twitter.com/Jd2VonfkXC— Gift Ostallos Siziba (@Cde_Ostallos) June 21, 2023
The party claims that 41 fake candidates filed their nomination papers on June 21 under CCC. Of those, 20 are contesting in the parliamentary polls while 21 are running in local municipality elections.
On 27 July, the CCC lost a court appeal to have the fake candidates removed from their ballot paper after a judge ruled the papers had nothing suspicious.
To make matters worse, the CCC’s 12 parliamentary candidates in Bulawayo have been barred on the basis that they submitted their nomination papers late, which the CCC denies. A three-panel bench at the Supreme Court will hear an appeal against the disqualifications on Wednesday 2 August at 2pm.
FAZ colluding with ZEC?
ZEC needs to do more to live up to its constitutional mandate to ensure free and fair elections, says political analyst Effie Ncube. “So far it has been failing so much so that there is no serious democracy observer who thinks the August 2023 poll will be free, fair and credible,” he tells The Africa Report.
Ncube says the CCC’s allegations against FAZ and ZEC with regard to double candidates should be seriously investigated as they damage the credibility of the upcoming elections.
Having run Zimbabwe’s 2018 general polls, a military organisation called Heritage gave way this year to FAZ.
On its website, FAZ claims to be a trust that was set up to access business and empowerment opportunities for its members. It doesn’t mention any links to the CIO co-deputy director-general, retired Brigadier-General Walter Tapfumaneyi, who is really pulling the strings at FAZ, intelligence sources told The Africa Report in May.
In May, the CCC wrote to the ZEC to point out ‘anomalies’ in the electoral roll, which came to light during the constitutional voter roll inspection. It said some registered voters had been displaced from polling stations near their homes and even moved to different wards without having been informed. The CCC was also concerned about the presence of FAZ’s operatives collecting registered constituents’ details during the voter inspection exercise.
The ZEC has denied any links to FAZ.
Political analyst Wellington Gadzikwa says that if the ZEC has allowed fake candidates onto the ballot it mars the whole electoral process.
“It gives ground for disgruntlement while we thought our society should be moving forward. This is why [the CCC] were afraid to show the list of their candidates. They knew these shenanigans,” he says, referring to CCC.
CCC activists allege that some of the candidates are members of ZANU-PF or its affiliate, suggesting they were planted by FAZ. The transparency pressure group Team Pachedu published a photograph of Nyashadzashe Enock Chitoro, who is running as a CCC candidate for Chitungwiza North (unacknowledged by the party) wearing the Zanu-PF scarf a few days after he deleted his Twitter account.
Analysts have also queried how the ‘double’ CCC candidates came to be represented by a single lawyer in the High Court case brought against them and the ZEC by the CCC.
Zanu-PF ‘panic mode’
In the presidential ballot on 23 August, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s main rival is once again the CCC’s Chamisa, who narrowly lost in 2018.
It is still not known whether Saviour Kasukuwere will be on the ballot. Kasukuwere, a member of the beleaguered Generation 40 (G40) and former local government minister, looked likely to split some of Mnangagwa’s votes with his strong support, particularly among the disgruntled young Zanu-PF supporters.
But he was barred from standing after ZANU-PF’s Lovedale Mangwana challenged his eligibility to run as an independent presidential candidate on the ground that he had been outside the country for more than 18 months and thus should not have been on the voters’ roll. The High Court ruled in favour of Mangwana, who has close links to Nick Mangwana, the permanent secretary for ministry of information, and ZANU-PF’s legal affairs secretary Paul Mangwana.
On 28 July, Kasukuwere lost his appeal against this ruling at the Supreme Court. He is now going to the Constitutional Court seeking the decision of the Supreme Court to be overturned.
“It is highly likely that the party is in panic mode and hence the use of lawfare to block him,” says political analyst Kudakwashe Munemo, adding that harassment of opposing dissenting voices has become a norm in Zimbabwe’s politics.
“All too often opposition and civic activists are subjected to sham prosecutions as part of an attempt to silence and cow down alternative views,” Ncube says.
Gadzikwa is also in no doubt that the case is politically motivated: “If someone is going to the courts trying to block his nomination it shows that they are afraid of political competition since Kasukuwere is claiming that ZANU-PF supporters are also his supporters.”
What remains to be seen, if Kasukuwere loses at the Constitutional Court, is how many of his potential voters would rather see Chamisa in the presidential seat.
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