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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Fears Zimbabwe's election is being stolen by Mugabe allies through purge of electoral roll
    Damien McElroy and Peta Thornycroft, The Telegraph (UK)
    July 03, 2013

    View this article on The Telegraph website

    Allies of Robert Mugabe have been accused of orchestrating a purge of the country's electoral roll through a secretive Israeli company, raising fears this month's presidential election will be stolen.

    Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister, has lodged objections to the activities of a Tel Aviv-based technology firm after research showed drastic changes to the numbers on the roll and anomalies in the distribution of voters.

    His concerns were echoed by the independent Zimbabwe Election Commission, which has been unable to account for the role played by Nikuv International in compiling and revising the electoral roll.

    Nikuv operates from offices within Harare's Ministry of Defence, run by Mugabe lieutenant, Emmerson Mnangagwa, but refuses to answer questions over its paymasters and its procedures.

    Zimbabwe is due to hold its first presidential poll since the 2008 general election provoked nationwide violence and forced Mr Mugabe to share government with Mr Tsvangirai in a coalition of rivals.

    Findings by Harare's Research and Advocacy Unit show more voters than adults that were registered in the 2012 census are on the roll in about half of Zimbabwe's 210 electoral constituencies.

    At the same time the electoral roll has been purged of more than 300,000 "dead" voters nationwide from a total of six million.

    Efforts to ensure that Zimbabwe turns the corner on its violent past led to a successful referendum this year on constitutional reforms and subsequent international promises to provide funds for a clean elections.

    However Mr Mugabe recently forced through early elections and the subsequent dispute over the release of the funds means the Commission, chaired by Rita Makarau, has no resources to carry out its functions.

    Mr Tsvangirai's complaint to the Commission said there was evidence in the public arena that Nikuv has a record of 'tampering' with Zimbabwe's voters' roll.

    "What are they doing with the voters' roll? Why have they got it and who is paying them, because they are not being paid with government funds," said Eddie Cross, a member of Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

    Campaigners for democracy in Zimbabwe have called for international pressure to ensure Mr Mugabe does not rig the poll using sophisticated computer-based data manipulation.

    Kate Hoey, the head of the All-Party Zimbabwe Parliamentary Group, warned that previously sympathetic governments appeared to be changing policy in anticipation of a Mugabe victory.

    "These revelations show the need for the UK Government and the rest of the world to turn the spotlight back on Zimbabwe and Mugabe's corrupt and despotic regime," she said. "It is incredible that the human rights abuses and election rigging in Zimbabwe is going on in plain sight but no one seems to care."

    The firm at the centre of the allegations said it would not respond to numerous requests for comment.

    Calls to Zimbabwe's Ministry of Defence for comment were also unsuccessful.

    Justice Makarau said she did not have the staff or funds to investigate the claims.

    Tendai Biti, the finance minister and an ally of Mr Tsvangirai, also claimed to be powerless to intervene, claiming he would not be able to find out if the Israeli company has been paid by the defence ministry until the end-of-year audit. "I only know how much money is allocated, not what it is spent on, until later," he said.

    The allegations have been denied by Zimbabwe's registrar-general, Tobaiwa Mudede who said the voter registration system is open to the MDC to prove there is no manipulation of the roll to rig the election.

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