Zimbabweans owe a huge debt of gratitude to Morgan Tsvangirai for the fact that it is now impossible to rig elections in Zimbabwe. We will explain today why. The mistake Nelson Chamisa and his Alliance made this time around was using the pre-reform tactics to fight this election instead of adapting to the news circumstances. It is the main reason we kept saying Chamisa had brought a knife to a gunfight.

But let's look at why it is now impossible to rig an election in Zimbabwe and why this last election also falls into this category of "impossible to rig".

It is all about knowing how to use the tools Tsvangirai gave us as Zimbabwe.

  • All ballot paper books printed have serial numbers. Each ballot paper has a serial number. This is incredibly important for any party that does not trust the process, especially combined with the presence of their agent at the polling station throughout voting.
  • Each party has a polling agent at every polling station in Zimbabwe.
  • At opening of polling, all agents, observers and NGOs present gather to check that the ballot boxes are empty. The boxes are then locked and the key is taped to the top of the ballot box.
  • Party agents, observers etc then sit down in full view of these locked boxes.
  • Having done this, they then record the serial numbers for the ballot books and papers they have received at that polling station
  • As a person comes in to vote, the party agents, ZEC officials, observers etc, verify that the person appears on the voters' roll for that polling station, and then they are allowed to vote.
  • Once voting has ended, all party agents/observers etc, gather to open the ballot boxes. They all confirm to each other that the box is still locked (they have been watching it all day as people voted).
  • They then open the box and start counting, again with party agents/observers and NGOs present.
  • Once the counting is done, they agree that the number of votes they have arrived at is accurate and ask party agents/ZEC officials etc to sign the V11 form.
  • The V11 form records the serial numbers of the ballot books for that polling station as well as the number of votes cast for each candidate and any spoilt ones.
  • Each party agent then gets a copy of the V11. (ZANU PF made sure that all their agents had enough airtime and whatsapp to take a photo of this V11 and send it to a central number at ZANU PF HQ).
  • Then this result is posted outside the polling station (please note this is a redundant process that was used to reassure all parties before Tsvangirai insisted and got all the other reforms. So, even without the posting outside polling stations, because each party had a an agent in the stations whose role was effectively the same as that of the ZEC officials in the polling station, their agent could sign off on the result as true, get the V11 and send it to HQ).
  • Should there be a dispute, with a party agent disputing the count at the polling station for ANY reason, that result can not be sent on to ZEC constituency or provincial or National Command Centre. The result is only sent when all agents present have agreed that the result is accurate for that polling station.
  • If your party does not have a polling agent for that polling station, then tough luck, the other parties and ZEC officials, as well as observers and NGOs are the ones who then agree that the result is accurate. Under these circumstances, because you did not have an agent present, you can not stop or delay the transmission of those results.
  • These results then make their way up the chain from polling station to constituency centre and on to the provincial centre, then, finally, the national centre.
  • An organised party will have a paper trail through all of this chain in realtime. They will probably know the results before even ZEC has announced at the national level (explaining why parliamentary candidates knew they had won or lost long before the results were even announced).
  • Should ZEC announce figures that differ from the ones a party has gathered through its own agents, it can, within 48 hours, ask for a recount either nationally or at the specific polling stations or in the specific constituencies where their own V11s and V23s (V23s are the constituency totals) differ from the ones ZEC is announcing.
  • When a party calls for a recount, the rules about challenging the results at the Constitutional court also get suspended, because it is considered that no valid declaration has been made until the recount has been completed.
If this process had been followed by the MDC Alliance, they would have had all the evidence that the Constitutional Court was asking for. 

And, if ZEC had refused to do a recount, either nationally or for specific constituencies and wards where the MDC had identified skullduggery, there is no way that refusal would have been condoned by the Constitutional Court because would have said this was evidence of ZEC having something to hide.

Under these circumstances, Chamisa and the Alliance would have won this court case and had a re-run (a declaration of Chamisa as the winner was always a pipe-dream that would not have happened considering the gap between his announced total and Mnangagwa's.

All evidence now point to the fact that the MDC Alliance did not have polling agents at most polling stations. The only V11s they could produce were the ones circulation on social media.

Let us leave aside the question of what happened to all the money they raised to pay these agents. 

It is clear that, despite all the public bravado, Nelson Chamisa ran his campaign in a manner that says he was not expecting to win. If truly expected to win, he would have pulled all stopes to make sure that he had polling agents at every polling station, had got V11 forms within hours after voting ended and would have then been able to have national totals for himself and Mnangagwa before ZEC announced.

More importantly, he would have had the proof of his totals and Mnangagwa's.

None of this has been put forward.

Yes, there are supporters of blind faith on both sides, MDC Alliance and ZANU PF. These ones will believe whatever their party or alliance tells them without bothering to use their own brain to critically look at the claims and at any evidence in order to see whether what their party is saying is plausible or not.

Those ones are in the minority.

The majority of those we have spoken to agree that the lack of evidence and the lack of an explanation as to why that evidence is missing, makes them believe that the president we will inaugurate in the next 48 hours is the winner of the election.

There the story ends.

Form what we have outlines above, all rational examination of the processes that failsafes that Tsvangirai fought for and won in 2012/2013 just needed to be taken advantage of religiously by his successors and they would either have won the election or at least satisfied themselves and their supporters that they lost the election. 

Narrowly, yes. But lost it all the same. Fair and Square. 


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