Specialists in Electoral Fraud

In the late 70's I was appointed Chief Executive of a major corporation and about six months into the job I noticed that although we had about 3500 employees and an internal audit department, I never saw anyone being disciplined or prosecuted for theft. I have been in business for about 40 years and in my experience 85 per cent of theft in a company is by staff. I called in the manager of the audit department and asked why I never saw a report on employee theft? Our business was selling predominately for cash and handled truckloads of cash every day. I then threatened him with dismissal if I did not start to see real evidence that they were doing their job and for the next three years the disciplinary committee was very busy with reported cases of theft and abuse of privileges.

In the recent election I received an invitation from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to witness the 'sealing of the postal ballot boxes' in my district. This election was run on a ward basis and therefore I attended one such sealing and my Chief Election Agent the other. I arrived at the polling station designated; this was about a week before the election itself and found about 20 people and several policemen milling about.

After a few minutes we were called to order and the presiding officer for the ward then proceeded to conduct an elaborate and painstaking procedure to demonstrate that the plastic box was empty and then sealed. We were told to take the numbers down and to sign the seals on the box so that they could not be tampered with. I then asked what would happen to the box until the election? I was told it would sit in the polling station in splendid isolation guarded by a policeman 24 hours a day.

What a waste of time - the real action was many kilometers away in police stations and army barracks and diplomatic missions where postal ballots were being completed by civil servants and serving officers under the supervision of their superior officers. Nothing transparent about that process and we have plenty of evidence that they were forced to vote one way - if they did not, they were told to do it again. These ballots were then sent to selected districts where they were used to ensure that certain candidates won.

My District was not one of those - I think I had 27 postal ballots. But what I recall was the elaborate dance conducted for absolutely no purpose in that primary school polling station. It served no purpose other than to give the impression that this was a process above suspicion, when it fact it simply disguised what was really going on.

Now take yesterdays recount of 23 constituencies. The claim by Zanu PF made 10 days after the results were known, was that the returning officers under counted the Zanu PF vote. They first targeted 25 such districts and then trimmed this to 23. All in rural areas.

The statistics are awesome for an exercise of this nature. The 23 districts had 1380 polling stations. At those polling stations were nearly `15 000 staff - excluding 5 000 police officers - all of whom were on duty the whole day and well into the night and observed the whole process. The returning officers in charge were all senior civil servants carefully selected for this task and well paid for their time.

Each team of over 15 people had to watch while an average of 275 voters went through the elaborate process of having their names and identity documents checked against the voters rolls. Collected their ballot papers and then completed them in secrecy before showing the polling station code number to the returning officer or their deputies and then placing them into one of four boxes - all color coded.

In the evening after closing the polling station they had a short break and then, in front of up to 20 party polling agents, they proceeded to empty each box onto an open table and divide them into piles - one for each candidate, before counting and recounting until everyone was satisfied with the count which was then recorded by all involved - agents on their own returns and the staff on the official documents.

The process went on for hours - eventually all is finalized and the returning officers filled in the V11 form recording the results of the poll, it was signed by all parties and then posted on the door of the polling station and he or she then took the form to the district control center where the senior returning officer and his staff were and they then consolidated the returns from all stations and finally declare the result for the ward, constituency or senatorial district. At the same time they announced the result of the presidential poll.

In every polling station the police watched every step and radioed in the results as they got them. I know that because at our polling stations during the counting we were hearing, via the police on duty, results from other stations.

Now Zanu PF and the Mugabe regime want the world to accept that this elaborate and painstaking process at 1400 polling stations was flawed to the extent that the results - drawn up by 15 000 staff, watched by 5 000 police officers, were wrong! How wrong we are about to discover. They started at 08.00 hrs yesterday and it will take three days to finish. The process of the recount will be elaborate for the benefit of the watching press, SADC observers and the curious. They will hold up each ballot - all 400 000 of them, carefully place them on the appropriate pile and then start the count. Remember the count is 400 000 times 4 - 1,6 million ballots from 5 000 ballot boxes.

But it is an elaborate sham, put on for the benefit of the gullible and the region - which knows full well what is going on and yet will applaud the process as being 'transparent' and above board. Why have they not done this with the V11 forms? Why not sit down with the four Chief Election Agents and count the results of 9 400 forms filled in by returning officers on the night of the 29th March. Why not simply verify the signatures on those forms and ask the parties to justify any queries. Why this elaborate and time consuming process when the obvious has not been done?

It is quite clear to me and to millions of others that this exercise - like the sealing of the postal ballot boxes with nothing in them, is just a ploy to hide the fact that fraud is being committed in front of the whole watching world. They have had the ballot boxes for three weeks behind closed doors and like my employees, simply cannot be trusted with the cash! Zanu PF and ballot boxes is a bit like the staff and the cash box - do a snap audit and fire the employee afterwards.

That ship with its genocide cargo from China is on its way to Angola - from there its cargo will probably be flown to Harare. Yesterday three MDC activists were picked up in Harare, beaten to the edge of death and then dumped in the bush at Mtoroshanga - many kilometers from Harare. A meeting was held at Raffingora yesterday, addressed by army officers in uniform. They told the people that there would be a run off and that this time they 'will' vote for Mugabe or else there will be civil war. They also said they would shortly start to take over businesses and mines and urban property.

If nobody starts to act soon, this is going to be a bloody few weeks.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 20th April 2008