The Registrar General of Zimbabwe administers birth, death and marriage records as he issues government documents. He is supposed to serve as a respectable neutral public figure who is honest, incorruptible, accountable and transparent. Unfortunately in Zimbabwe, this is another story altogether as allegations of injustice and unprofessionalism continue to mire the RG’s office since it is manned by Robert Mugabe’s trusted man, Tobaiwa Mudede.
His brow-beating warnings and allegations against the non-governmental organizations this week create a smoking gun scenario. Many would wonder why he feels challenged or insecure by independent observing parties. Could he be trying to cover up something that the world is not supposed to know? Why is he is harsh with these independent analysts? It is true that old folks normally feel unsettled when silver hairs are mentioned. There is no smoke without fire. Mudede seems very uncomfortable about the voters roll issue and he tries by all means to make it a sacred cow that should remain untouchable or not subject to public discussion. Once anyone mentions the voters roll, it will appear as if Mudede has been labeled unprintable names as he emerges with warnings, epithets and rancor. This is because to Mudede, the voters roll has been the fuel that grants his Zanu PF political mileage to command votes and loyalty thereby guaranteeing his stay in office for as long as Mugabe rules by virtue of a voters roll paving way to an election.
With this new dispensation, Mudede should be placed under serious scrutiny as his role, functions and services are placed under review to expose his open bias, attitude, partisanship and favor for Zanu PF. This is a new day calling for a new order and with technology and information, Mudede is running against the wind direction of change. To let Mudede play around with the lives and welfare of the whole nation as he holds the voters roll to call the shots to his convenience could be cowardly and imprudent. Mudede must be answerable for his role in administering the opaque voters roll that has remained a state secret only shared between him and the Zanu PF politiburo.
Since 1980, Mudede has controlled the voters roll and administered it the way he sees fit. Initially as the independence euphoria swept through, many were busy with their social lives and never cared how he did his business. Then, many were patriotically faithful in a black majority rule structure. After the year 2000 referendum, when the Zimbabwean citizenry has woken up, and after the 2008 election result was sat upon for weeks as attempts to doctor results were obviously in motion, no one now trusts the office of the registrar.
This is the same voters roll that has borne names of dead parties as deliberately left unattended despite folks registering their deceased to get burial documents and also to register the deceased estates. Thirty two years later, the voters roll still carries lots of discrepancies and incorrect data. And this is the office that issues births and deaths records and should be proactive in reconciling and updating records to give a correct picture of the status quo. Even with the census results having been published, the result from census bureau will not tally with that of the voters roll. There is a lot going on and many had taken their trust for granted.
Tobaiwa Mudede plays God with the voters roll. Even those in the Diaspora who will not turn up to vote will be deemed having voted in 2013. The deceased party names remain on the roll and nothing will be done ahead of the 2013 election. The passport records and customs data for those still abroad are manipulated to favor a fast-fading party. And Mudede plays with the voter’s roll from a Zanu PF perspective. He forgets that the voters roll is a public record that should be handled in an apolitical fashion.
By openly associating with Zanu PF that sent him to that big office, Mudede provides the very last trump card for possibilities in tampering with votes and the election results. He can do forecasting on the results and can predict how things are bound to come. His word is considered strategic in manipulating elections. He plays a pivotal role in sending threats out to the public and also ensuring that the political climate remains favorable to garner enough votes for his Zanu PF to win. This whole activity is a shame to democracy.
Regardless of how political leaders shall campaign and regardless of the provisions of the Constitution and the ethics practiced by the electoral commission, the whole process is bound to plummet for as long as Mudede calls the shots using the voters roll. If anyone wants to see the power and influence of Mudede, then they should see how he behaves before the cameras on election night. He appears firm, stern and will be playing God with the people’s wishes as he treats journalists like they escaped with his daughter to a remote island.
At times Mudede deliberately delays announcing results and at times he is harsh to journalists especially when he is uncertain about some constituencies. He forgets that he should be non-patisan and that his office is a national public office and not a Zanu PF-sanctioned office. As he announces the results, he openly portrays his political side and has done this without any hiding or remorse. He believes too that his seat as the Registrar General is a lifetime appointment as decided by Mugabe and will leave with old age.
Political leaders should now protest to have Mudede’s professionalism questioned. As a biased public servant, he must be removed from office and give way to a new order. A set of representatives from all parties must be appointed to share desks and responsibilities of that big office. As long as he remains the sole controller of the voters roll, Zimbabwe is going nowhere in terms of trying to achieve democracy. This is a waste of time and resources. Mudede needs to be reminded that he is a public servant and is not Government. His duties are national and should not be directed or controlled by the Zanu PF politiburo. 32 years later, many have taken Mudede’s role for granted as he acts according to his party’s interests.
All the vote-rigging and tampering of votes is engineered through this office because it counts votes and carries out duties in liaison with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Actually his document that he produces even with some gerrymandering concerns, is taken for the applicable law that determines the outcome of the votes. This is a travesty because Mudede’s conduct has not been publicly challenged and his deliberate use of deceased people’s names is not a mistake. This is a calculated and intentional move that keeps his party ahead of others because obviously all the votes from the deceased are apportioned to Zanu PF in trying to stay ahead of the game.
Mudede should be challenged as his wings of power are trimmed to the right size. If political party leaders fail to challenge him to produce the voters roll for public inspection then they are bound to endorse Mugabe to keep abusing them with his politiburo. A voters roll should always be a public record that should lie in for inspection some months before the election date. In this day of internet age, this record should be floated on the web and anyone should be able to check the names and places of the deemed people who are bound to vote. Those who will not be able to vote should also have the capacity to request that their names be removed immediately.
With four million people in the Diaspora right now most of whom will not go home to vote, if anything is not checked, that will mean Zanu PF scooping the silent 4 million votes in their favor. No one will effectively challenge that once the election process goes through. Do not be surprised that the census bureau statistics will never match the voters roll in the six month window period.
Rather than for the Registrar General to take the voters roll as private property, the electorate should make a quick move and stop the mess. Political leaders should cry foul and bring this issue to the mediators for there to be a publicly-inspected voters roll that is deemed free from distorted statistics. Without a clean voters roll, all political leaders aspiring to eat a portion of the Zimbabwean cake of government are simply wasting their time as they continue to knock on the wrong door. The voters roll is the door right across and if the opposition ignores it, they are doing so to their own peril.
If Mudede’s wings are not clipped and his powers unchecked, he could be a “President” every election time as he calls the shots at any minute to the added mileage of his political party. No matter how much campaign is going to be executed, no matter how much loyalty parties will command, without a genuine voters roll, this is going to be a futile exercise because Zanu PF will command a sweeping victory since Mudede remains in charge of the voters roll. This is Zanu PF’s last opportunity and if the opposition snoozes on this one, it is bound to lose. The voters roll should be snatched from Mudede’s hands for democracy to be realized.