THE appointment of Priscilla Chigumba as the head of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) sets the ball rolling for elections expected later this year and it is important that she hits the ground running.
Already, there have been allegations of violence and the way Zec responds to these claims will set the tone for the campaigning period.
Chigumba must start by asserting her authority and brooking no fear if the elections management body is to be any effective.
So far, Zec has been timid and has not confronted a plethora of electoral law violations and, if Chigumba is to be different from her predecessors, she ought to come down hard on any violations.
We have said this ad nauseam, but we cannot afford to tire from saying it, the credibility of this year’s elections goes to the very heart of this country’s foundations and if Zimbabwe fails this test, more problems lie ahead and extricating the nation from this mess would seem impossible.
Chigumba has already displayed that she is not afraid of making hard decisions, as she ruled against the government in 2016 when MDC-T approached her court to be allowed to demonstrate after being blocked by the police.
Such independence and courage to go against the grain will be valuable at Zec, which has often been accused of pandering to the ruling Zanu PF’s whims.
Chigumba must brook no nonsense and must do her job honestly and diligently so that the credibility of the polls is not questioned.
On the other hand, she needs to have an open-door policy to accommodate all the parties that will beat a path to her door.
Dialogue is the most important way of building trust, thus, Chigumba must be approachable and should engage all stakeholders.
There were complaints, particularly from the opposition, about her predecessor, Rita Makarau, and it is important that Chigumba shows that she is willing to engage to avoid questions about her integrity.
While at it, it has to be pointed out that she will not be able to please everyone all the time, but as long as she is guided by the law and is not partisan, then she will have the support of Zimbabweans and history shall judge her nicely.
We hope the era of disputed elections is now behind us.