Youths Wary of Rigging Ahead of Crucial Elections

YOUTHS have expressed fears that there could be plans to rig the forthcoming harmonized elections after the recent constitutional referendum saw a big turn that some analysts say could have been as a result of tampering on the actual figures which they say could have been lower.


The youth were speaking at an interface forum between youth formations of the civil society and the MDC-T Youth Assembly held on Wednesday April 10, 2013 at the behest of the latter at the Crisis in Zimbabwe (CiZC) head offices in Harare to discuss the constitutional referendum and the forthcoming national elections.


MDC-T Youth Assembly Spokesperson, Clifford Hlatshwayo repeated party leader and the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's expressed favourable disposition towards the work of independent organisations in the quest to create more open politics and democratize the southern African country.

"The role of civil society is important and as political youths we value it. It is important that we keep the spirit of the Save Zimbabwe programme alive as we go towards the key elections.

"We have a task as young people to deliver a new Zimbabwe, € Hlatshwayo said.


The Save Zimbabwe Campaign was the broad based and flagship democratic crusade towards the 2008 harmonised elections which led to the formation of the Inclusive Government - with transitioning Zimbabwe to democratic politics through wide-ranging reforms under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) as its main mandate, under the watchful eye of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).


However commenting on the historic referendum held on March 16, the youths expressed fears that the voter turn out could have been exaggerated to pave the ground for rigging in the coming elections.

"There is a feeling that the figure for the YES and NO vote were being inflated, € said Edgar Munatsi, the Secretary General of Students Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ).

"Whilst I agree that the voting process was faster, there was voter apathy and the figures do not seem to concur with what we saw, € said Michael Mabwe, the Secretary General of the National Association of Non-governmental Organisations (NANGO), who was part of the observers deployed by the Youth Empowerment Trust (YETT) across the country.


Nkosilathi Moyo, who is the director of the Zimbabwe Organisation for Youth in Politics (ZOYP), expressed wariness about the commitment by President Robert Mugabe and his party to change their tactics.

"President Robert Mugabe has not changed. The offices of the Prime Minister and NGOs have been raided.

"Let's learn from Joshua Nkomo who was too soft and complacent with Mugabe in the Unity Accord of December 1987, and as a result he was outwitted.

"There is need for youths to insist on the full implementation of the GPA in terms of media reform and security sector reform, € Moyo said.


Hlatshwayo said the MDC-T had done its parallel tabulation on the referendum votes and said the fears of rigging could not be entirely dismissed though there was no evidence.

"We recognized a variance which showed that the figures we gathered were lower, but this could have been due to logistical problems in that we did not deploy observers in some areas due to accessibility challenges.

"The figures were matching for the areas we deployed observers. We are strengthening our strategies to do parallel tabulation, € the MDC-T Information Secretary said.


The revelation by Hlatshwayo could show the lack of preparedness and complacency with which the MDC-T dealt with the matter of ensuring there was no rigging in the constitutional referendum.


Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Youth Chairperson and Build A Better Youth Zimbabwe (BABY-Zimbabwe) Director Admire Zaya said: "The fact that there were no party agents for the referendum made it difficulty to detect rigging especially in those areas where there were no observers. €


Youth Alliance for Democracy (YAD) Director Tichaona Masiyambiri meanwhile said the massive voter turn out could have been genuine.

"Over the past five years many young people have turned 18 years old and become eligible to vote.

"A referendum is also different from an election in that the latter is more rigorous, for instance you have to check your name in the voters' roll and that give delays in the process. While for the referendum it is just a matter of producing your documentation, € Masiyambiri said.


Zaya said such platforms of engagement among the youths were important in leveraging for a credible election in Zimbabwe and encouraged youths to have more of the same discussions ahead of the important elections expected later in 2013.

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