Tuesday, September 10, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Zimbabwe has 'grave concerns' over UK envoy
15/08/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWE has “grave concerns” about the British ambassador Deborah Bronnert, a senior official in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party said on Friday after the envoy was caught apparently “lying” about assisted voters in the July 31 elections.

Bronnert told Sky News on August 4 that in an unnamed constituency, 10,000 voters out of 17,000 had been assisted, adding: “That means somebody else went in with them into the voting booth raising some big questions around the secrecy and security of the vote.”

The same claim was repeated by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in an affidavit filed with the Constitutional Court on Friday last week challenging the election results showing President Robert Mugabe winning by a landslide.

But just like Bronnert, the outgoing Prime Minister did not name the constituency where this took place – drawing fire from Mugabe who, in his replying affidavit to Tsvangirai’s petition, accused him of “bringing before the court an unsworn founding affidavit to parrot a false British claim without a factual basis.”

Bronnert was challenged on her claim on Thursday but would not answer the specific question about which constituency she was referring to, instead releasing a statement referencing the British Foreign Secretary.

She said: “As outlined by Foreign Secretary William Hague, the UK has grave concerns over the conduct of the elections. The SADC and AU preliminary statements outlined many of these. They include the voters’ roll that should, by law, have been made available to all political parties, the high incidence of voters turned away and the high numbers of assisted voters.

“These and other irregularities call into serious question the credibility of the election and it is important that all allegations of electoral violations are thoroughly investigated.”

Her response appears to have angered Mugabe’s Zanu PF party which says her actions justify the country’s refusal to invite western countries to observe elections.

Playing on Hague’s own judgement of Zimbabwe’s elections, Zanu PF politburo member and former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said: “Zimbabwe has grave concerns about the conduct of the British ambassador.

“She made inflammatory and inciteful allegations using a high-profile platform like Sky News. It was deliberate, calculated mischief by the former colonial power to smear a national process and to smear a national result without any factual basis.”

“If what they have said that 10,000 people were assisted to vote in a constituency where 17,000 ballots were cast is true, there would clearly be something wrong and serious consequences would have to fall on those responsible. Conversely, if this is a false allegation, those who have made it like Deborah Bronnert have to be visited by the same consequences as well.”

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, 206,901 of the 3,410,767 total voters were assisted in the July 31 elections, representing an average of 985 per constituency.

Assisted voters are mainly the elderly, disabled or illiterate people who require assistance from election officials to indicate their choice on the ballot paper.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said if Bronnert and Tsvangirai’s claims were true, it would have taken a whole month to get 10,000 assisted voters to cast their ballots. It takes an average five minutes for an assisted voter to cast their ballots, he said.

Moyo added: “The problem with Britain and its allies, the US and Australia, is that they have a large Rhodesian population which controls the media and they have been telling themselves that the people of Zimbabwe are against their independence.

“So the result of the harmonised elections shocked them because they showed that the people of Zimbabwe and their liberation movement are together, they are a team under Team Zanu-PF.

“They wanted another government of national unity, but the people of Zimbabwe came with an expression of their sovereignty that shocked them.

“This is why we don’t want these people to observe our elections, they are liars. Bronnert did not have the capacity to observe the elections but made this lie. You can imagine the amount of lies they would have made if they had been invited to observe the elections.”

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