THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is caught up in a renewed transparency gap as it gets increasingly entangled in a web of lies and ties itself in knots over its mysterious server at the centre of a new controversy after an independent Internet geolocation forensic investigation traced its system — the client-server connection — to a military-owned communication service provider, Africom Holdings.
While the army says it does not run elections, evidence shows that it in fact does through Fernhaven Investments which was chaired by the late Foreign minister Sibusiso B. Moyo, who was the face of the November 2017 coup that initially brought President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power.
Zec is always accused of rigging elections or electoral fraud. The technical link between Africom and the army — and in the process Zec — is undeniable.
High Court case HH 357-18 provides the evidence. This is besides having security or military personnel seconded there. In his seminal monograph on the 2018 presidential election, Excelgate — How Zimbabwe’s 2018 Presidential Election was Stolen, Jonathan Moyo, a former minister and professor of politics, says Mnangagwa lost the election to his main rival Nelson Chamisa, then MDC-Alliance and now Citizens’ Coalition for Change leader, but was rescued by Zec through manipulation and rigging.
After taking over the control of the state and its institutions, the military, in a bid to protect and consolidate the gains of the coup, brazenly commandeered the Zec machinery, particularly its computer network server, corrupted its internal system, as well as logistics and illegally changed the route and destination for the collation, compilation and transmission of the result of the 2018 presidential election for purposes of rigging the election in favour of Mnangagwa, whom it had imposed as President of Zimbabwe on 24 November 2017 after toppling the late former president Robert Mugabe.
The Zec computer server sits at the heart of the rigging system and the 2018 electoral dispute. In computing, a server provides functionality for other programmes or devices, called clients. This system is called a client-server model.
The Zec server has been at the centre of controversy since the 2018 general elections. At the time, Zec first said it had a server, then changed the story in court and said it did not have one.
However, Mnangagwa, better placed to know, confirmed it was there in his opposing court papers. Now Zec says it has no server linked to an external host, including Africom, meaning it has one housed within its system.
However, an investigation by civic activists and data mining experts Team Pachedu, who promote transparency, responsibility and accountability, shows Zec servers are being hosted by Africom.
“When the Zec website was hacked on August 1, 2018, forensic experts investigated. They found that Zec was hosted on an Africom server, IP 18.104.22.168, sharing hosting with other sites like netguardsec. com. Shared hosting means the server was not at Zec,” Team Pachedu said.
“Step 1: http//22.214.171.124. The Zec website will open and this confirms that the IP address is legit and genuine. Step 2: access the admin control panel by opening the website using port 2083 and hence http//126.96.36.199.2083. Step 3: You will see that the website will now direct you to the actual people who are hosting the website. Guroohosting is a server owned, housed and managed by Africom.”
“All websites have an IP address and a port/back door to the hosting Control Panel (cPanel) for admins. The IP address for Zec is http://188.8.131.52 and to access this cPanel, we use the back door 2083. cPanel: http://184.108.40.206:2083. Open cPanel and see Africom! Case closed!”
The geolocation was an important confirmation of what Moyo says in his book. The server’s location is the smoking gun. As Moyo says, it is dishonest for Zec to deny the existence of the server.
This shows it has something to hide. After the Pachedu revelation, Zec did not deny it has a server, something it did in the ConCourt in 2018.
It also did not deny Africom maintains, services and runs it computers. To lay this matter to rest in the interest of credible, free and fair 2023 elections, Zec must be urgently investigated on this issue.