By Wisdom Mumera
ZANU PF has pulled up another master trick out of its bag of election gimmicks after the Registrar General announced the immediate revocation of all metal identity cards, in favour of plastic ID’s, making them ineligible during the 2018 elections.
Speaking to the media this week RG Tobaiwa Mudede said that within the next three months all metal ID’s will be withdrawn and thus a suspected millions of adult Zimbabweans who have metal ID’s will have to change over to plastic ID’s within the prescribed 3 months starting September 4 until November 30 if they want to vote.
“They (metal ID’s) are not biometric. Our system has been biometric since 2010. Our cards will be requiring signatures, fingerprints and we have machines to take the images”
The move, however, appears a strategic ploy to disenfranchise even more voters after the government refused to grant voting rights to people in the diaspora, suspected to favour the opposition parties, stating instead that they need to come to the country and exercise their constitutional right.
Conspiracy theorists, basing on very legitimate fears, have cited the government move as part of a larger strategy to not just disenfranchise voters who will fail to change to plastic ID’s within the prescribed period but to also infuse fears into unwary rural villagers.
“Zimbabwe Election Support Network requests the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to provide information to the public on its position regarding these developments about aliens and the use of metal ID’s given that they have a direct impact on the voter registration process, which the commission is about to embark on in a few weeks’ time”
“It is a notorious fact that Tobaiwa Mudede has previously been linked with allegations of aiding and abetting the ZANU regime’s vote rigging shenanigans.
“Perhaps rightly so, Zimbabweans somehow believe that they could be a sinister motive behind the registrar-general’s planned move to roll out the national mobile registration exercise at this juncture”, it said.
The opposition MDC-T has also come out against the timing of the move.
“The MDC sincerely hopes that this three-month mobile registration exercise shall be equitably distributed throughout the country’s urban, rural, peri-urban and commercial farming areas.
“On numerous occasions, Zimbabweans, particularly those who live in urban areas, have complained about the long delays in queues for voter registration, which state of affairs has unfortunately contributed to voter apathy in these areas”, it said.
Soothing for the apprehensive but confusing, all the same, are the remarks of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Commissioner Netsai Mushonga who has dismissed Mudede’s statements saying that no one will fail to vote because of having a metal ID.
“Both IDs work just fine.
“According to the Constitution Chapter 12, Section 239(c) ZEC has sole mandate to register voters and Section 235 says no one should interfere,” said Commissioner Mushonga responding to questions on social media.
Mushonga’s statement as a member of the election conducting body would normally be expected to carry more weight and relevance as compared to the seemingly cheap politicking antics of Mudede but with ZANU PF at the helm, the line isn’t so straight.
ZEC may have the constitutional indulgence on determining what legitimizes a voter but ZANU has the overall power.
Previously the ruling party has been known to lie about cameras in voting booths to unsuspecting village old people whom they cajole to vote for them.
Thus the changeover can be hijacked and peddled among some uninformed citizenry as a high-level monitoring mechanism allowing the ruling party to see who votes for who.
During the last election, some villagers in Hwedza’s Ruzane village experienced a traumatizing episode after they received a visitation from unidentified men, suspected to be state agents.
The men, through the village head, called all the people to a meeting where they proceeded to threaten them with death if they voted for the opposition MDC-T.
According to eyewitness accounts, one of the man produced a firearm which he brandished around the trembling villagers.
Notable about the experience was that the men alleged that in the then upcoming election of 2013, they would be minute cameras implanted in the voting booths allowing them to the voting patterns for everyone.
The landslide results bear witness to the effect of the threats.
For all its food donations, indigenisation programmes and President Mugabe’s aged streetwise offhand dismissals of accusations of using violence, it’s common knowledge that nothing is beneath ZANU PF character when it needs to get votes, it does just about anything.
The ruling party has previously shown itself to lack the necessary decorum required of true liberators and has denied allegations of violence but deep down I think they know the truth that has sustained their strangling hold on power.
The ruling party has simply become the political equivalent of a criminal Mafia gang which we all fear and admire as it swaggers around our lives with unbridled power reining with impunity and disdain for all constitutional limitations and civilization mechanisms.
As the elections draw near more and more cars are appearing on the streets emblazoned with ZANU PF graffiti, extolling the President (for what I wonder)