MOST Zanu PF candidates who lost the March 29 parliamentary elections have told the Electoral Court that their defeat was a result of economic sanctions that were allegedly called for by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC.
According to most Zanu PF electoral petitions seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, the petitioners are arguing that the sanctions created an uneven playing field that resulted in the MDC-T winning the elections.
The Electoral Court this week held pre-trial conferences for the first batch of the 105 petitions filed by losing candidates of both the MDC and Zanu PF.
In his petition, Zanu PF losing candidate for Masvingo West, Jabulani Mbetu, challenged why the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) called for the parliamentary elections when the sanctions were in force and consequently created an uneven playing field against Zanu PF.
“It is an open secret that at the core and heart of the harmonised, epoch-changing and defining elections was the issue of the economy,” Mbetu said. “It was equally blindly obvious that in their quest to convince the electorate, the political parties involved all espoused policies on land and how the land was inseparably tied to the grandeur and broader economic question.”
He said there is ample evidence to show that the MDC-T and independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni propounded polices anchored on what they euphemistically termed a “rationalisation” of the land reform programme that Zanu PF had engaged in and was continuing to consolidate.
Mbetu accused the MDC of supporting smart sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe, the cabinet and key government officials.
“Evidence also abounds to the effect that the first respondent’s party (MDC) had hankered for or at least openly expressed support for the so-called targeted or smart sanctions against, typically, Zanu PF presidential candidate, the entire cabinet and other top and key members of the government, the party, and not least, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” said Mbetu.
Zanu PF candidates challenged parliamentary results in 53 constituencies won by the MDC-T on the grounds of general electoral fraud and malpractices of a broad and significant nature as to affect the electoral outcome.
The MDC-T, which filed 52 electoral petitions, accused ZEC of malpractices and general electoral fraud.
“The constituency elections officer did not cause a notice of the places at which polling stations were to be established and the hours during which the polling stations would be operating at least three weeks before the date of the election as required by the electoral laws,” reads an application lodged by Thomas Mutandwa, MDC losing candidate for Hwedza North.
The MDC-T is arguing that there was open vote buying and denial of access to GMB-procured maize to all perceived MDC-T members and that traditional leaders were used to intimidate and harass opposition supporters and to canvass support for Zanu PF.
The MDC-T is arguing that its known supporters had their names removed from the voters’ roll after its inspection.
“The voters roll was also in shambles. Several people had their names removed from the voters’ roll without being informed. Ironically they had checked their names in the voters’ roll and had found them there when inspection was open to the public; their names were only removed from the roll after inspection of the voter’s roll,” reads the application.
Both parties accuse each other of using food relief as a vote-buying tool.
By Lucia Makamure