Zimbabwe opposition threatens to boycott upcoming election

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa speaks during a news conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
File – Nelson Chamisa

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa made a veiled threat on Wednesday to boycott elections on July 30 if there is no agreement between the independent election agency and political parties on ballot papers.

Chamisa and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are the main rivals to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the first presidential and parliamentary vote since Robert Mugabe resigned last November following an army coup.

The MDC is wary of any attempt to put it at a disadvantage to Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party, insisting there be a deal on how to design, print and store ballot papers.

Chamisa said his party rejected the papers being printed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

“We do not and will not accept the current ballot paper that has been printed without our participation,” he told reporters.

“It is clear that we have an election process stalemate arising out of the ballot paper scandal, the sham ballot and the voters’ roll inadequacies and omissions,” he said.

“This has culminated in an election crisis. For the avoidance of doubt, we do not and will not accept the current ballot paper that has been printed without our participation.”

Chamisa said the MDC Alliance was now engaging in a diplomatic offensive over the issue.

“We will be dispatching special envoys in the mould of our alliance principals and senior MDC-T party members with messages to SADC, [African Union] AU and the international community,” he said.

“We are also briefing all the international observers and diplomats on the current electoral logjam. In fact, I have already briefed some of them.”

Chamisa said the current logjam which allegedly favoured Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in the political playing field, needed the intervention of external forces.

Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba early this week accused Chamisa of trying to tamper with the electoral management body’s independence and usurping its administrative roles by demanding consensus on the ballot paper designs and printing.

Chigumba on Monday declared that she would not bow down to Chamisa’s demands.