By Martin Muleya
A first year student in Masters of Science in Peace, Leadership and Governance at Zimbabwe Open University, Mutare campus, has threatened to take the higher learning institution to court if they do not overturn the results of an election process he alleges was rigged.
Tawanda Ndawe expressed disapment as he alleged that his counterpart in the race to become Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Hector Kabhunu’s victory had been through vote rigging.
He fingered the university’s management for tilting results in his opponent’s favor adding that him being a Zanu PF Mutare District Coordination Committee member, he had become a victim of his political affiliation.
Ndawe during the road to the elections had been fronting a camp that aspired to occupy all the 12 posts that were up for grabs and hinted that his opponent Hector Kabhunu won the elections controversially as his victory was alleged to have been masterminded with the assistance of the university management.
The University’s SRC elections were proclaimed on 4th March 2022, effectively giving the aspiring candidates two weeks to campaign.
Dr. Gertrude Vongai Chiparange, Emily Mairos, Heather Zimunya and Sebastian Murambisi presided over the elections on behalf of the university management.
On the criteria of voting there was need for a student Identity card and for those with no identity cards they were required to produce the student pin number to confirm their eligibility in voting.
Fifty students it is alleged registered to vote but after the voting process it emerged that 62 ballot papers had been casted. The extra 12 ballot papers were not explained how they came about.
Ndawe polled 27 against Kabhunu’s 35 votes and consequently, including Ashley Machekeche and Fanuel Nyahwa bounced back in the SRC, this time as vice president and secretary for property respectively.
Other new members roped in the SRC include Liosa Femai (vice sec. Transport), Chengetai Hamuna (sec for information), Murapa Tinoenda (Health and social welfare), Kudzai Mubaiwa (sec for legal), Trynos Murwisi (sec for sport), Muradzikwa Bridget (Treasurer), Dhliwayo Progress (Sec for special needs), Tricious Mvurume (Sec for Gender) and Simangaliso Marume as General Secretary.
Ndawe could not explain how his political jacket had led him to lose the elections neither could he justify why he perceived he should have been the outright winner and not Kabhunu. He accused the Student Advisor (Dr. Chiparange) of masteimding his downfall and added that although he had informed the Manicaland Acting Regional Director about his complaint, he was ready to approach the courts of law to seek justice.
“The outcome of the elections was not fair because I was barred from the counting, verification process and also to appeal for any irregularities that were obtaining during the voting process. After the ballot were counted and the results recorded, the register was not used for us to get convinced that the elections were fair. There were observers from both camps but they were all compelled to append their signatures before us the candidates had verified the results.
“I approached the Student Advisor seeking to verify if the casted number of votes tallied with the register and was denied that opportunity. So under the circumstances being the second time I have been a victim of this electoral fraud from management, I think it would be prudent to have a re-run if that fails then I will be left with no option other than to approach the courts. I am a victim of my political affiliation and thus they would do anything to get rid of me in the SRC executive”, fumed Ndawe.
Contacted for comment over the phone Student Advisor Dr. Gertrude Chiparange rubbished the complaint from Ndawe and even had the audacity of accusing this reporter of spending precious time dwelling on petty issues.
“If I were a journalist as you have introduced yourself, you would not waste your precious time dwelling on petty issues like these, there are better people who know the procedures to follow. These are domestic issues and you have no room to utter whatever you want. I have no comment,” bellowed the learned Doctor before she hung up her phone.
ZOU Manicaland Acting Regional Director Stephen Mwenje confirmed that he had received a complaint on the outcome of the SRC elections from a student and went on to say that he was now waiting to receive a report from Dr. Chiparange who presided over the elections.
The university boss reiterated that once he received a report from the Student Advisor he will examine on the loopholes and if there was any element of tilting votes to sabotage the other camp, the university would set up an SRC executive based on compromise.
“I am yet to receive a report from the Student Advisor and then I will be able to look into the matter. We will examine on the loopholes of the process that is if there were any. If everything that transpired was above board there won’t be any need to have a re-run of the elections.
“If there were any irregularities in the manner in which the elections were conducted then we will see how we can resolve the impasse with the parties involved because at the end of the day these are our students we are nurturing to be good leaders in society. What we will not entertain is an election victory born out of a flawed process,” he said.