Zimbabwean President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa last week appeared to extend an olive branch and to offer his electoral rival, MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, a place in his government. He spoke of Chamisa having “a role to play” in the present and future Zimbabwe and appealed to him for peace and togetherness.
Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba
The Standard of Zimbabwe Chief Reporter Everson Mushava (EM) spoke to MDC Alliance national chairman Morgen Komichi (MK) about Mnangagwa’s apparent offer and prospects of a unity government. He also spoke about the MDC Alliance’s electoral challenge and what chances they have. Below are excerpts from the interview.
EM: Mnangagwa has said Chamisa has a role to play in the future of the country. The statement seems to suggest the president-elect might be mulling coming up with a deal that will enable him to work together with Chamisa. What is your comment?
MK: President Mnangagwa must learn to be different from (former president Robert) Mugabe, but anyhow, when Mugabe was defeated by president Tsvangirai in 2008, he wanted to hand over power to Tsvangirai, but it was Mnangagwa who reversed the results of the 2008 elections. He is not a new person in this matter. He is the master of deceit. He must not pretend to be good to the world, he knows what he did; that he rigged the elections. He steals an election from us and he wants to extend an olive branch to us. Can that be real politics? It is a culture that is developing in Africa and we cannot allow that kind of thing, let a winner be the winner.
EM: If you are offered government of national unity (GNU), are you going to accept?
MK: We don’t want people to abuse their power, abuse the guns to rig elections . Let the GNU come out of free and fair elections, let it come out of a voluntary process where the winner should lead the GNU. Let the GNU be a policy of the party, not to rig elections and call for GNU, that is not acceptable.
EM: Commissioner Qhubani Moyo has been on social media claiming you are being dishonest. He says that you ran away from the verification process and now you claim that you were dribbled. What is your comment?
MK: He is being used by the junta system to pronounce a junta position. He must be able to define what verification is. I have defined verification in the context that I know it. I was entering the room where they were inputting data — that is not verification. I expect him to understand the basic definition of verification. Did he give me data from constituencies? Did we compare their V11 forms and mine? And did I sign those results? I did not do any of that, so I did not verify.
EM: On Thursday night, you sprang forward to interrupt a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) press briefing announcing presidential results and declared the results fake in front of the whole world following the proceedings. What drove you to do that with all the dangers associated with such a move?
MK: Verification by its simple definition is to check the figures coming out from Zec. Input of the figuresis done after adding results from each of the 210 constituencies. Zec was supposed to give us these figures so that we compare them with the V11 forms which we got from our agents. Presidential results are collated constituency by constituency before they are collated at provincial level and lastly national level. So the verification starts at the constituency level. For the last two days Zec technical people were inputting these figures from the V11 forms. Zec was working with 24 computers and 10 985 V11 forms. That was the activity taking place; it was not verification, but observing people inputting figures into 24 computers.
So verifying was supposed to start after inputting had been completed and we get printed results constituency by constituency and we compare them with the figures which we have from our V11 forms. After that, we should have signed the results constituency by constituency. We discussed that with Zec’s chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana, in the morning. We agreed on the procedure and he promised me that he would give us the printed results and would not announce until we had signed them constituency by constituency.
We waited as they were inputting the figures until 9:59pm and when I knocked at his office asking him if they were announcing results, he said no, we are only announcing results for the outstanding four provinces and those for senators, proportional representation and provincial councils. Silaigwana assured me that they would not announce now because we had not yet been given the printed figures for verification. He indicated that the results would be announced the following day. I then went back and relaxed, but then I saw (Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla) Chigumba on television announcing the results of the remaining four provinces and soon after she went on to announce the presidential results.
Then I said this is cheating, this is rigging, and these are fake results. We don’t even know where that woman got those results because the results which were being computed should have passed through my hands, according to the Electoral Law. I then saw that the world was being cheated, my country was being cheated, my party was being cheated and Zimbabweans were being cheated. I took a sacrificial decision to put myself before the guillotine and I couldn’t care if someone had shot me. Of course, I could have been killed, but I wanted to save my country, save my party, save my president and save my nation. That’s what pushed me to go to the podium to tell the truth that these results are fake and are not from the processes which we went through because I was the chief election agent for the MDC Alliance candidate together with Jameson Timba. Many other chief election agents for other parties and candidates like APA were there. None of us was told to come in and verify and sign the results.
EM: There have been messages on social media, with the likes of David Coltart calling on all agents, especially from Mashonaland Central and West provinces to submit the V11 forms. This suggests the party had no V11 forms and people are beginning to think you are holding the nation to ransom when you don’t have evidence of rigging. What is your comment?
MK: You are free to visit our offices and see the V11 forms with your own eyes. Don’t follow social media speculation. Things that are being speculated on social media are written by the CIOs to confuse people. We had polling agents at every polling station; where we did not have local polling agents we hired people from Harare to areas like UMP. Our own people brought those V11 forms. Never be cheated. We had agents at more than 98% of polling stations as one or two missed due to other reasons.
EM: You lost majority seats in Parliament and you seem to have conceded defeat. Are you also challenging the parliamentary polls?
MK: We are challenging the parliamentary polls. The example I am giving is Chegutu West where our figures were swapped with those of Zanu PF candidate Dexter Nduna. Our clever polling agents quickly identified the anomaly and it was officially reversed by Zec. Zec confirmed they had swapped figures. We have a number of MPs who have lodged complaints and are challenging the results.
EM: Can you hint on how many constituencies you intend to challenge?
MK: We have around 20 MPs who have lodged petitions before the electoral courts, for example, Mutasa North and Zvimba East. You know that Chipinge South MP Enock Poruzingazi’s car was found with ballot papers. Where did he get them? In the offices of Zanu PF in Mutare, a sympathiser saw stacks of ballot papers. The sympathiser is prepared to write an affidavit. So Zec gave Zanu PF ballot papers in advance and evidence is Poruzingazi’s car which was found with ballot papers. Every Zanu PF candidate was given similar packages.
Where did they put them? It was for a purpose. Zanu PF MPs were given tonnes of rice and agricultural inputs. Those things are fundamental issues because to be involved in vote-buying is against the code of conduct. Observers saw these things and people reported it to Zec and they did not care.
EM: Many people say you don’t have to look beyond yourself as a party for your “defeat”. They cite your failure to control double candidates as the source of your waterloo. What is your comment to that?
MK: How many double candidates were there? There were not even more than 10. Most of them withdrew. What we are saying is that the electoral process should have been be free and fair. Was food not being distributed? Did we get the voters roll? Did we participate in the voters roll printing? Those are the electoral issues which were critical.