By Professor Matodzi
Harare, August 8, 2013 – Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday set in motion his electoral challenge to President Robert Mugabe’s disputed election victory by petitioning the Electoral Court seeking access to some materials used during the polls.
Tsvangirai wants the Electoral Court to grant him an order allowing him access to open and inspect the sealed ballot boxes and sealed packets relating to the presidential election in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) declared Mugabe as the winner with 61 percent of the vote while the former trade union leader garnered 33 percent.
In his urgent chamber application filed in the Electoral court late Thursday, Tsvangirai, who in 2008 became the first politician to hand Mugabe his first electoral defeat forcing a run-off election – which he later boycotted citing massive violence against his supporters said he wants unlimited access to all the presidential election materials used in the harmonised elections held on July 31.
The MDC-T leader wants to be furnished with the full set of presidential results per constituency, copies of the voters’ roll used in all the polling stations including the one used in the special voting process held in mid-July. He also wants a register of police officers who managed to cast their vote in the special voting process and of those who had been authorized to but did not manage to cast their special vote and the reasons for such failure.
The combative former trade union leader, who is largely credited with stemming the decade long agonising economic crisis authored by Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has demanded that the electoral authorities hand over to him registers of assisted voters at all polling stations where people cast their votes during the elections.
He also wants access to a register of people whose names did not appear in the voters’ roll but were allowed to vote using voter registration slips.
Tsvangirai’s legal challenge is likely to open a pandora’s box after some local civil society organisations, African governments and western powers criticised the elections as “flawed” and whose result was tainted by “substantial electoral irregularities”.
In rejecting the election results, Tsvangirai said they were a “farce, fraudulent and stolen.”
At 89 years, Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s only ruler since independence in 1980 and has presided over the collapse of the southern African country’s economy and is blamed for the country’s poor human rights record which invited targeted sanctions from Britain, the European Union and the United States.