Justice Rita Makarau is the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson. She is also a judge of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe
By Obert Gutu
In addition, she is also the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). Effectively, she is simultaneously holding on to three very demanding and challenging jobs.
Obviously, this untenable state of affairs flies in the face of well-established principles of good corporate governance that are meant to avoid conflict of interest, amongst other things. Put bluntly, it isn’t a healthy state of affairs to have one individual holding on to these three very important and demanding jobs at the same time.
Surely, Zimbabwe doesn’t suffer from any chronic shortage of suitably qualified and experienced people to take up some of the jobs that Justice Makarau is holding on to.
In almost all the other Sadc countries, the position of chairperson of an electoral management body is invariably a full-time vocation. This is mainly so because the job is a very busy and demanding assignment that cannot be effectively shared by an individual who is holding on to other jobs.
The MDC is deeply concerned by this anomalous state of affairs whereby Justice Makarau occupies three crucial jobs at the same time. Particularly as we move towards the holding of elections in 2018, it would be more appropriate for Justice Makarau to make a choice of which particular job she would like to keep. She cannot keep on blowing hot and cold; approbating and reprobating.
We are not even sure whether or not Justice Makarau is actually being separately paid for all the three jobs that she is currently holding on to. Should this be the case, then this would certainly be a scandal of monumental proportions. As it is, Zec is seriously lagging behind with the process of procuring adequate biometric voter registration (BVR) kits to operationalise the BVR exercise.
It is not unreasonable for us to suspect that may be Justice Makarau is overwhelmed by the challenges of the three jobs that she is currently performing. The MDC, therefore, is calling for the immediate assignment of Justice Makarau to only one job at a time.
This will bode well for the holding of well-prepared, transparent, free and fair elections next year.
President Robert Mugabe has gazetted that voter registration is kicking off on September 14, 2017 until January 15, 2018. Zec has not come out very clear to advise and clarify to the nation whether they would be able to complete the BVR exercise in this space of time as gazetted by Mugabe.
There is a lot of vagueness surrounding the issue of whether Zec, as the constitutional body mandated with the responsibility of running elections in Zimbabwe, is actually ready for this exercise.
Mugabe and the Zanu PF regime that he fronts are not worthy of the people’s trust. Previous elections in Zimbabwe have been routinely rigged in favour of Zanu PF and as such, we would like to ascertain whether or not ZEC is actually adequately capacitated and ready to roll out the BVR exercise countrywide.
The toiling masses of Zimbabwe are now sick and tired of being taken for granted. Once beaten twice shy.
Credible, free and fair elections are essential in extricating Zimbabwe from the prevailing political meltdown and socio-economic stagnation and retrogression. The consequences of holding unfree and unfair elections next year are just too ghastly to contemplate.
l Obert Gutu is MDC national spokesperson