BY GEOFFREY NYAROTA
One of the most sensational stories of the 2013 harmonised elections — the MDC-T primary election fraud at Mutungagore — never saw the light of day in Zimbabwe’s media.
Zanu PF secured victory as a result in what was an MDC-T safe constituency, Makoni South, going back to the controversy-ridden 2008 polls.
In December 2012 a delegation representing various wards in the constituency approached me.
They were disillusioned with the sitting Member of Parliament, Pishayi Muchauraya.
They wanted me to stand against him in the forthcoming general elections scheduled for July 2013.
They had initially approached me in 2010, following my return from the United States, but I had turned them down.
As the polls now approached I agreed to stand after I obtained MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai’s approval.
After a bruising campaign Muchauraya emerged as winner of the MDC-T primary elections, held at Mutungagore Business Centre on June 9.
He accomplished this amazing feat while detained in Rusape Remand Prison.
He had threatened to kill three people, including myself.
While he won the primary he proceeded to lose the MDC-T safe seat, when he faced off with Zanu PF’s candidate, Mandiitawepi Chimene, on July 31.
The primary election campaign witnessed blatantly fraudulent activity and the election itself so much rigging that an official delegation was dispatched to Harvest House, the MDC-T headquarters in Harare.
There, a petition addressed to party secretary-general Tendai Biti, was submitted.
The major bone of contention was the issue of the qualification of ward executive members who were entitled to vote at the MDC-T primaries.
In terms of MDC-T rules, only those ward executives who had been registered on official lists compiled and approved back in March 2013 were allowed to vote on production of their official national registration card or passport.
This was done to confirm that the details on the national registration card matched those recorded on the list back in March.
But during the two weeks running up to the primaries, officials of the Muchauraya camp had travelled around the constituency and distributed receipts for the purchase of new MDC-T membership cards.
Those in possession of these receipts were then allowed to vote, even if their names were not registered as ward executives.
This change was announced in the morning of primary election day.
Absolute pandemonium broke out as a result.
The four-man delegation that travelled to Harare was received by the MDC-T deputy chairperson, Morgen Komichi, in the absence of party chairperson, Lovemore Moyo.
Komichi received the detailed petition, outlining the alleged rigging under the supervision of MDC-T organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa, and the fraudulent nature of the primary election conducted at Mutungagore.
After listening to and quizzing the delegation, Komichi assured them that their allegations would be investigated and they would be advised within two weeks.
This never happened.
I was not the only MDC-T candidate who submitted a petition of protest at Harvest House.
The pile was quite high when the delegation deposited the Makoni South envelope on top.
Sentiment grew among the many candidates who were convinced they had been cheated by their own “party of excellence” that they should file their papers on nomination day as independent candidates.
Supporters said if the MDC-T had rigged the primaries so openly, then they would vote for Zanu PF in Makoni South on July 31.
In fact, throughout Zimbabwe the electorate was more inclined to vote along political party lines, and not in support of individual independent candidates.
The MDC-T complained about its punishing defeat by Zanu PF, allegedly as a result of electoral rigging through the sinister intervention of Nikuv International Projects, the Israeli advanced technological solutions and software designing company.
Evidence abounds, however, that the build-up to this defeat started to gather momentum within the MDC-T party itself as early as the end of May 2013.
The party became a victim of its own popularity, as scores of aspiring candidates emerged and challenged the party’s old guard, many of whom were sitting MPs in the outgoing government of national unity.
On 9 July the Independent Candidates’ Coalition was launched in Gweru.
I was one of the 31 members at its inauguration, who believed they had been cheated at the primaries.
Spokesperson Felix Mafa Sibanda of Magwegwe North in Bulawayo said members were going to stand as independent candidates because of “the rot bedevilling the MDC-T.
“Certain individuals in MDC-T have grown too powerful and dangerous, stifling democracy.”
Fingers of accusation for the shambolic conduct of the MDC-T primary elections nationwide were pointed, rather menacingly, at the party’s youthful organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa.
He allegedly called the shots and manipulated the presiding officers from his office at Harvest House.
Many candidates who were popular, but not in Chamisa’s good books were thus allegedly sacrificed.
I met Zanu PF candidate Mandiitawepi Chimene in Nyazura towards the end of June.
Having confided in me earlier in the campaign that she believed she stood no chance whatsoever against me at the polls, she now exuded confidence.
“I am sorry, my brother, I hear you were rigged at Mutungagore,” she said with genuine sympathy.
“But do not worry, I will take all your votes.”
She romped to victory on July 31 with more than 8 000 votes to Pishayi Muchauraya’s 4 000 or so, while I trailed far behind with a paltry 400 as an independent candidate.
But I felt a sense of accomplishment.
As requested by them, I had liberated the people from what they said was the harmful grip of their sitting MP.
The most effective way to narrate the sad events of June 9, 2013 at Mutungagore is to reproduce in full the contents of the petition submitted by the Makoni South delegation to Harvest House:
Complaint about the conduct of the confirmation process held in Makoni South Constituency on Sunday, 9 June, 2013
Submitted to Hon. Tendai BitiSecretary-General Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Harvest House Nelson Mandela Avenue Harare
Copied to: Hon. Lovemore Moyo chairperson, MDC-T and Hon. Nelson Chamisa Organising Secretary, MDC-T
Dear Hon. Biti,
We, the undersigned, write to you on a very sad issue pertaining to the exercise held on Sunday, 9 June 2013 at Mutungagore in Makoni South constituency for the purpose of confirming Hon Pishayi Muchauraya in his position as sitting legislator for the constituency.
Unfortunately, the confirmation process for the MDC-T candidate for Makoni South constituency was fraught with irregularities, some of which amounted to outright fraud. They included the following:
Recognised MDC-T electoral processes were dispensed with, to be replaced with clearly illegal or fraudulent procedures.
At the beginning of the confirmation process on Sunday, 9 June, 2013, presiding officer, Ms Rorina Dandajena, announced that only official Zimbabwe national IDs would be accepted as the official identification for those proceeding to cast their ballot.
This announcement met with loud applause.
Shortly after the process started, Dandajena did an about-turn.
She announced that people holding receipts for purchase of MDC-T membership cards could now also vote.
This new announcement met with loud howls of protest.
But Dandajena was adamant.
She said she would not entertain any complaints or protests as her word was final. She said she was a man in her own right and had left her husband at home attending to household chores, to prove the point.
She said she would cause the arrest of anyone who challenged her. “Muparty medu hatisungisani, (In our party we do not report fellow members to the police.”), she said.
The presiding officer was clearly de-campaigning candidate, Geoffrey Nyarota, who caused the arrest of sitting MP, Pishayi Muchauraya after he threatened to kill him.
That statement set the tone for the acrimonious events of Sunday night.
People were rudely dismissed when they raised legitimate complaints.
The major complaint was caused by the distribution by the Pishayi Muchauraya camp of receipts for the purchase of MDC-T membership cards among otherwise ineligible people who had been bussed in to vote.
A beast was slaughtered and prepared for the consumption of voters at the premises of Mrs Susan Kapumha, the Ward 29 MDC-T chairperson, a strong Muchauraya ally.
Her house is situated about 200 metres away from the venue of the elections.
People there were then issued with more MDC-T receipts for identification for purposes of voting.
Unfortunately, for the perpetrators of this fraud, they also issued receipts to people who did not support this rigging and they protested publicly.
There was an immediate outcry. Over the past two weeks or so supporters of Muchauraya went around Wards 28, 29, 30 and 31 in the constituency distributing the MDC-T receipts to people who are not members of the MDC-T ward structures.
The receipts were issued only to those who were part of the conspiracy.
Those without receipts were then not allowed to vote.
It is these illegal voters who helped Muchauraya to secure “victory”. We have in our possession evidence, including photographs of how this fraud was committed.
We have some of the receipts written out to non-existent people, and then issued to people bussed in for the purpose who used the receipts to vote illegally. We have a number of people who are prepared to testify and produce their receipts.
This is a scandal of unprecedented proportions in the annals of the MDC-T.
Some of the lists of members of the MDC-T structures in Makoni South Constituency which were audited at Mutungagore on March 12 and submitted to Harvest House have simply disappeared completely, to be replaced by brand new lists which were used for purposes of voter confirmation on Sunday.
Protests were dismissed by Ms Dandajena and illegal voters, therefore, helped to confirm Muchauraya as the official candidate for Makoni South Constituency.
Dandajena stopped Ward 33 from voting altogether, saying there were parallel structures in the ward.
She tore up ballot papers that were already in the ballot box. Ward 33 is recognised as Nyarota’s stronghold.
Thus the voting process was thrown open to people from the Muchauraya camp who were not bona fide members of the ward executive structures.
Many such impostors were thus allowed to vote in this fraudulent exercise.
Amen Bungu, the MDC-T Youth organising secretary for Manicaland, played a prominent role in the distribution of the membership card receipts, especially on Saturday and Sunday.
He was riding around in a brand new Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) Ford Ranger Twin Cab truck Number 69 (Registration ACX 4955).
Ward 28 chairperson, Percy Ndikudzei, issued receipts to people in his ward. People who were issued with such receipts include:
- Ishmael Mutano of Ward 28 (Tel no: 0775 980 …) was issued with a receipt under the name Matthew Chiyadzwa. Mutano said: “Ndikudzei asked me to vote for Pishai.”
- Godfrey Muchangani of Ward 28 issued with receipt in the name of Jonathan Matanhire. (Photograph attached). Told by Percy Ndikudzei to memorize the ID number on the receipt.
- Tabby Nyatsine of Ward 28 is female. She did not attend the confirmation. A man voted in her place.
- Joseph Tenga was admitted in Murambinda Hospital on Saturday. Someone voted in his place on Sunday.
- Pishai Muchauraya’s candidacy was confirmed while he was in a prison remand cell.
Chairman Lovemore Moyo says he pleaded that the confirmation be postponed until his case was resolved and Muchauraya was released.
He says he was overruled by the Manicaland provincial leadership who insisted that the process should proceed because they had consulted Muchauraya in his remand cell and he had agreed that the process should continue.
Amen Bungu had a voice recorder on him when he visited Muchauraya in prison.
He recorded Remand Prisoner Muchauraya as he launched a vicious attack on Mr Nyarota.
He accused him of causing his arrest and for causing his suffering.
Bungu then played the tape back to people at Mutungagore as they waited to vote.
So Muchauraya effectively campaigned at the polling station, while confined in a prison cell.
Campaigning inside a polling station is illegal, even for candidates who are not in prison.
Irene Kamundimu of Ward 30 is bed-ridden and ailing at home. She did not attend the confirmation process on Sunday. Someone else voted for her.
Urayai Chirumbi of Kuwanda Village, Ward 30 is prepared to testify on this particular incident. Batsirayi Kasiyamhuru of Ward 30 is also prepared to testify. His number is 0776 442 …..
After arrival at the Mutungagore Business Centre in the morning, the head office delegation had suddenly announced that they had left behind, back in Harare, documents pertaining to party structures in the constituency.
They were, therefore, proceeding to Mutare to collect copies. They arrived back at Mutungagore well after 4 pm and voting started only after 5 pm.
It continued well into the night with motor vehicle headlights providing illumination.
Names of legitimate members of party structures were removed and replaced with others.
District organising secretary, Andrew Chingawawa, also known as Beef, openly boasted that he had removed a number of names from the structures. People are now baying for his blood. \We humbly submit that the anomalous election process on Sunday, 9 June, 2013, be immediately and effectively declared null and void in the interests of justice, fairness and democracy.
Report prepared on behalf of Makoni South constituency by:
Lameck Borerwe, Makoni South District vice-chairperson
Bonnie Kandini, Makoni South District secretary-general,
Chris Gokonondo, Makoni South Youth District chairperson,
Amos Kutiya, Ward 18 information and publicity, campaign Manager for Aspiring MP, Geoffrey Nyarota,
Godfrey Sanhanga, chairperson, Ward 33 Date: 11 June 2013
- Geoffrey Nyarota can be reached by email: gnyarota@gmail,com