Didymus Mutasa, the former national security minister under President Robert Mugabe, says the Zanu PF government has already started rigging the 2018 general elections by clamping down on critics.
Mutasa was expelled from Zanu PF for siding with Mugabe’s ex-deputy, Joice Mujuru who now leads the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) opposition party in which the ex-minister is a top member.
He is the current National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) convenor, a position that is held on a rotating basis among opposition parties that are pushing for poll changes ahead of the 2018 general elections.
In a statement, Mutasa said prevailing police brutality against Mugabe’s opponents and bans on protests amounted to the declaration of a state of emergency and poll rigging.
“The government-sponsored brutality and yet another ban announced on Monday against constitutional attempts to push for far-reaching electoral reforms represent a de facto state of emergency and a willingness by this regime to rig the next election,” said Mutasa.
The police made a prohibition order on protests in central Harare at the beginning of September, but the ban was reversed by the High Court which argued that it was not procedural.
This followed a wave of demonstrations, including one organised by NERA, that turned violent when police used exercise force to disperse the protesters.
The police emerged with another ban of protests in the capital this week, but NERA insists it is of no consequence and a demonstration for electoral reforms planned for Saturday will proceed.
“The government’s violent clampdown on political parties and ordinary Zimbabweans under the banner of the national Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) shows a poisoned national environment and points to the fact that the 2018 elections have already been rigged,” said Mutasa.
After his expulsion from Zanu PF, Mutasa admitted that his former government had systematically rigged elections in the past, including the most recent in 2013. He claimed he had evidence of how rigging occurred but has not availed the information yet.
He added in the NERA statement: “It is trite for anyone to expect a credible election in 2018 when genuine and constitutional demands for electoral reform are met with police brutality and weekly bans of protests.”
“In other words, he said, the brutality itself is tantamount to a rigging of the next election well in advance,” he said.
He vowed that NERA would press ahead with its scheduled pro-reform demonstration on Saturday and urged Zimbabweans to join the protest in large numbers throughout the country “to express in a loud way the national demand for a truly credible election in 2018.
He accused the police of acting like the British South Africa Police (BSAP) which was used to crush dissent during colonial rule that ended in 1980.
He blamed Zimbabwe’s current political and economic woes on discredited past elections.
“We are where we are as a nation because of a disputed election that bred an illegitimate outcome…It’s game on, on Saturday,” said Mutasa