Since it was formed the MDC has fought 4 national election campaigns.
first was the referendum in March 2000, which we won despite estimated
rigging of the vote by 15 per cent, then the Parliamentary elections in
2000. In this second election the MDC took a small majority of the
cast and 57 out of 120 seats. In the Presidential elections held in
2002, the MDC garnered just over 40 per cent of the vote cast and then
2005 the MDC won 41 of the 120 seats up for election by universal
To the casual observer these 4 elections seem to show that the
base of the MDC has shrunk from the high of 55 per cent of the vote in
2000 to just over 40 per cent in March 2005. However what such a
does not reveal is the massive efforts by the ruling Party to subvert
whole democratic process. After the shock of the March 2000 referendum
result, where the ruling Party in reality, only secured 35 per cent of
votes cast in favor of the referendum, the Party threw everything they
at subverting the democratic process itself.
What they did was to unleash a campaign of violence and intimidation
all who apposed them - no matter what they stood for. They then closed
the free press and intensified Party control over all State owned media
television, all radio broadcasts, two dailies and 5 weekly newspapers.
gerrymandered the boundaries of constituencies reducing the number of
seats to one third of the total despite the fact that the urban areas
contain over 65 per cent of the adult population.
As far as the electoral process itself, they disenfranchised nearly
all adults - by denying those who live outside Zimbabwe the vote as
all with any foreign parentage. They automatically registered all those
were recognized as being pro Party and restricted access for all
They put the voters roll on computer and installed sophisticated
manipulate voter distribution and constituency boundaries. They allowed
million dead voters to remain on the roll and manipulated them to
the whole process.
On the day of voting itself, they denied people the right to vote,
intimidated thousands and used violence to restrict the activities of
opposition and any civic groups. They used the administration process
inhibit candidates and to restrict campaigning and poll supervision.
restricted the activities of civic bodies concerned with voter
voter registration. They denied the opposition access to the State
especially radio. They used food as a weapon of coercion in all rural
They also used access to schools and tertiary institutions as well as
to all State employment and low income housing for the purpose of voter
intimidation. They brought in and co-opted traditional leaders and
billions of State funds in patronage payments.
As if this was not enough, they created a massive system to rig the
vote and if required on the day, the counting of the vote. The whole
was placed under military and CIO control and a small group of security
Ministers and officials directed the exercise from secret offices in
A national communications network was created to manage the system.
In the Presidential elections in March 2002, all of these mechanisms
used and despite this, they still had to mount a huge operation on the
Saturday night of the election (which was held over two days), to
stuff into ballot boxes 800 000 votes to give Mr. Mugabe the majority
demanding over his "upstart rival" Morgan Tsvangirai. The problem with
rigging in this particular election is that it was so large and so
widespread that it could not be disguised or hidden.
I took part in all these election campaigns and we were absolutely sure
we (the MDC) had won the June 2002 presidential election by a wide
When the results came out to say we were stunned is to put it mildly -
d thrown everything we had into the process just to be robbed. The
was what could we do? We did one thing that was still open to us and
still a possibility - we took the election result to Court on the 12th
In terms of Rule 31 of the Electoral Rules, all such appeals must be
with as matters of urgency. This is logical as the process being
elected the State President and if the challenge was upheld then he
longer be able to carry out his duties and a new election would have to
It is now 3 years and 4 months since the challenge was submitted to the
Courts and the matter has still not been heard. In the aftermath of the
parliamentary elections the MDC took 38 Zanu elected parliamentarians
Court in a similar exercise, 12 cases were heard in 5 years, 7 were
favor of the MDC and the incumbent declared not elected. The ruling
simply appealed the decisions and only two appeals were heard before
March 2005 elections - both were ruled in the favor of the MDC but it
then too late for the MDC to take up their new seats and Parliament was
prorogued prior to the 2005 elections. Justice delayed is justice
have little doubt that had all these cases been heard and ruled on that
MDC would have taken control of Parliament 4 years ago.
As for the 2002 challenge the record is equally shameful. The MDC had
take the Registrar General to Court 7 times before he complied with the
Electoral Act and brought the ballots to Harare for inspection. He then
did so after the Courts had fined him Z$5 million and threatened to
Even then what has happened since then is so bizarre as to make good
material for a farce. The State has tried to block the use of experts
examine the ballots and the voters roll used (denied to the MDC until
month). When the MDC demanded that the first constituency to be
would be Rushinga - a known Zanu stronghold where more people voted
were registered - the ballot boxes were "not available". 7 out of 10
could not be found. When finally they were found they were brought to
accompanied by a letter from the State Attorney to the effect that once
surrendered to the Courts they no longer had any control over them -
night the High Court was broken into and the targeted ballot boxes
into and ballots destroyed and torn.
The inspection was suspended and is now scheduled to resume on the 10th
August. But no sooner had this been decided than the CIO pitched up at
home of the person being used by the MDC to run the sophisticated
driven scanners and software to analyze the ballots and the voters
What did they do? They confiscated all the equipment and took it away
examination. To get it back the MDC had to go to the High Court for an
injunction and this was granted last week and the equipment recovered.
Just what they are trying so hard to hide is not difficult to guess at,
we do when we finally get to look into this Pandora's box is quite
thing! One thing is clear - Mugabe does not need this challenge right
with what is going on in Pretoria.
By my calculations the support base of the MDC has actually grown over
past five years - in a "normal" democracy, my calculations are that the
should have won the March 2000 referendum by a margin of 65 to 35 per
The subsequent parliamentary elections by 76 seats to the MDC and 44 to
PF and the presidential election in March 2002 by a margin of two
The latest election would have yielded a huge majority for the MDC -
estimated that the Party won 94 seats out of 120. Others were less
but still gave the MDC a two-thirds majority.
Bulawayo, 6th August 2005