Soldiers make up 15% of Zec staff

NEWLY-APPOINTED Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba , has admitted that ex-soldiers constituted 15% of the electoral management body’s staff complement.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

She also added that there was nothing unusual in hiring secretariat with a military background.

Chigumba made the disclosure yesterday when she appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, where opposition parties took her to task demanding the de-militarisation of Zec to restore public confidence in the electoral system ahead of this year’s general elections.

“One of the first things that I did in my first 10 days of office was to call for a list of all Zec permanent employees, which constitutes about 383, to look through this list and see how many people among those employees had a former military background …,” she said.

“Zec policy is that we are not precluded from employing former military members, provided that they are retired and not active. We have less than 15% of those, but yes they are in the Zec, but I would hasten to add that a lot of those former military personnel retired from their institutions five, six, seven years ago.

“I have gone through their files and satisfied myself that these are no longer serving members now. Unless and until the laws are changed that we are not at liberty to recruit retired members of the security sector, we maintain the position that those already in our ranks will perhaps for this elections remain in position until maybe we are informed otherwise.”

This came amid recent claims by former Vice-President and now People’s Rainbow Coalition presidential candidate, Joice Mujuru, that at least 3 000 soldiers have already been deployed to various parts of the country to campaign for the ruling party.

Mujuru last week wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa demanding that soldiers be confined to barracks and stay out of the election management system.

Mnangagwa has since his inauguration last November, pledged to guarantee free and fair elections, including inviting international observers to oversee the polls, but remained mum on the opposition’s demand for sweeping electoral reforms.

The opposition has in the past elections accused the “militarised” Zec personnel of manipulating the results in favour of Zanu PF, but the ruling party has dismissed the claims as baseless.

Yesterday, MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, said opposition parties would continue piling pressure
on Zec to retire all staff with a military background to avoid a situation where they could be tempted to withhold or tamper with election results in the event of a Zanu PF defeat.

Mwonzora added that the recent military intervention in Zanu PF factional fights, which culminated in the forced resignation of former President Robert Mugabe, was still fresh in citizens’ mind, hence the call for demilitarisation of the Zec secretariat before this year’s polls.

“General (Constantino) Chiwenga (now Vice-President) on that famous night (November 13,2017) when he issued his Press statement made it clear that they were intervening because of something wrong that was happening in Zanu PF. Zanu PF was embroiled in internal struggles and the military felt that it should intervene. We, in the MDC have been embroiled in internal fights from 2005, 2013, 2014, and even at present, the military has not intervened. The military only intervened because something was taking place in Zanu PF.

“So to expect them to keep quiet when Zanu PF is at the receiving end, being defeated in an election, would be to misunderstand their true character. These are soldiers, but they are also politicians because most of them were Zipra, Zanla, therefore, they have political orientation,” he said.

He also urged Chigumba to engage top military bosses led by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, so that they give guarantees that they would accept the election results regardless of which party wins.

“The reason why we say that is that sometime in 1992, the generals in this country issued what is called a fatwa — a death sentence to any candidate who does not hold liberation war credentials — saying they cannot be President of Zimbabwe. That order has not been reversed and some of the members who are now members of Zec, were members of the military establishment at the time that order was issued, so in our view that order still stands,” he said.

Mwonzora added: “We hope an alternative is that Zec must ask the current CDF to undo the command and say those without war credentials can take part and become a President, I think that will be Ok.”

Chigumba, however, promised to relay the opposition’s concerns to the military’s top brass.

Mwonzora also demanded that the forthcoming elections be observed and monitored by Sadc, AU and UN to avoid disputed results.

29 Comments

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  2. why being reemployed whilst some of us, the young generation haven’t had a chance to work. if a person is retired he is supposed to be on pension. when are we going to get a chance as youths….this must be put to an end!

    1. Ex Soldiers are disciplined but the youth have proved to be hooligans as was displayed at the funeral of our opposition leader. The youth could not control their emotions and zeal in ensuring that the leader gets a befitting burial. So we can not trust them. They need to be groomed. May be they apply for jobs in the army and get trained in the area of discipline

      1. You EDiot so all youths are MDC or violent just because of a few incident you generalise. If that’s your basis then its safe to say all old people are corrupt and criminals as evident by Chombo, G-40 and the whole of Zanu PF

      2. Discipline can be one positive attribute of ex-soldiers, by the same token, they can also be biased against opposition candidates. We use Zim electoral history here as reference – the facts will not change whichever way those being paid by taxpayers think.

      3. no civilian would utter what you have said ,so we see you are still very active in civilian matters .whilst we do accept you have vast resources ,but politics leads the gun .are you still at defence house or you are now ku KG6.mabasa e army ndoakugochwa in public circles ,we also know you kidnapped dzamara as said by a former minister

  3. with the army in Zec ,we will not have a fair and transparent vote .its wishful thinking to believe otherwise .i would liken this scenario to a EX military officer working at pghq and expected to give a balanced report on an investigation on his former boss..after all an army man will always be an army man ..they dont retire you as discarded material they do so with a clause that you be on stand by when needed by your country ..

  4. former soldiers are zimbabweans too and have a constitutional right to employed or re employed just like any other civil servants. why are you not complaining about former teachers who are also employed by ZEC. infact former teachers and other civil servants constitute more than 50% of ZEC payroll.

  5. Tipeiwo mari dzedu dzeBVR pirizi takatosiyawo mabasa edu paya tioneiwo tioneiwo

    1. Chokwadi taura hako the Govt said ithad all the money for the BVR exersice till now we have not been paid

  6. So if being ex military is so much of a problem, why isnt it a problem when The MDC dines and forms an Alliance with Aggripa Mutambara? The argument that all ex military personnel are Zanu-Pf is just as devoid of logic as saying all civil servants are Zanu.

    1. thanks so much i have always tried hard to tell people that soldiers are just like any other civil servants and they belong to different political parties

      1. if i was priscilla i will rather resign with immediatly.no one can like to work with soldiers

  7. Comment…ndivo vanhu vaikonzera kuti mugabe achembere achitonga vana ED nhasi vakuti free and fair election mu zec muzere masoja mugabe na mnangagwa zvakangofanana hapana chinochinja

  8. What was the rationale of employing soldiers in ZEC in the first place? They are former, but when they joined ZEC they were active. The opposition failed to ask a pertinent question, that is out of the total staff compliment how many are secret service (CIO) officials “retired” and active? My crude guess is that perhaps they constitute “only” 45% and the arithmetic here is that 15% soldiers + 45% CIO = 60% and Justice Chigumba that institution therefore ceases to be a civilian body but a truly militarized, high security entity, which has a mandate and sole responsibility to report to the executive arm of government and specifically to the ruling party and in my understanding of basic democracy, this is clearly unacceptable and therefore the election result is likely to be contested.

  9. Petty politics: Let us think outside the box. There are ways of making sure that our votes are counted and allocated correctly. Can the counting be done by all political parties. The announcement be done in the presence of all parties. Ballot boxes to be opened at the place of voting and counted in the presence of all participants People can suggest how they want counting to be done that will show that there is no rigging

  10. Gukurume ReMasvingo

    Let us desist from cheap politicking. We can think outside the box and give ZEC what might help rigging minimised or done away with
    1. Ballot boxes must be opened and counting done at the polling station in the presence of participating parties
    2. Final counting that include those boxes from outside the country must be opened in the presence of all
    3. Announcement of results must not be a preserve of one person
    4. The voters roll must be open to inspection by the citizens
    5. Defeated candidates must accept results
    We can even suggest to ZEC other technological uses that are being used in other countries even our home grown solutions

  11. These ex soldiers i believe were hired by ZEC after they applied for the jobs like anyone else..are we saying just because someone has been in the army then automatically he is or was Zanu pf? These are professional men and women who went to school,have the same qualifications as other civilians if not more.Are there no ex soldiers in the opposition party ranks? There is Mutsekwa, Mutambara in the MDC Alliance to mention a few.Are these gentlemen not democratic? Let us not create unnecessary rift between the army,ex soldiers,opposition parties, ruling party, the electorate and ZEC. Lets be honest in our criticism of ZEC and not play silly politics. The soldier of yesterday has been replaced by a very well educated one so lets move out of the time warp.

  12. Your headline is very misleading . “Soldiers make up 15% of Zec…”. Chigumba was clear that all those who constitute the 15% are ex-soldiers. If you look at their roles at ZEC, there is some merit because they would be qualified in those fields. I am a Police pensioner but currently employed as a Loss Control Officer. You cannot go to town claiming that my company employed a policeman because I am no longer one. Yes the youths want jobs but surely can they compete with me in my current job? I have been an investigator for years and my experience in that field is required. Newsday muno konzeresa because you are too partisan. Like the Herald which are pro-Zanu PF, you always are pro-Opposition even where it is clear bias. Write objectively

    1. what experience do ex soldiers give in ZEC? And knowing well they believe no other party shld rule except ZANU then where is democracy? Those mentioned in the opposition party its ok because its a party not a gvt institution which actually shld be independent… ndavaende kuzanu not kuzec because zec and zanu are different…

      1. i could ask you the same question, what experience would u bring. apa hauna nyaya

  13. soldiers never really retire especially in Africa. they are likely to report to their bosses in the army and thts wats happening.

  14. We may view things from varying perspectives but I have my reservations. Whereas majority appear to be content with the status quo, the war is far from over. Let us not misconstrue the two landmark events that characterized the pre-election session. Those in the opposition should not bank their hopes on sympathetic votes following Tsvangirai’s death or demean the current regime following it’s promise of a free and fair election. For your information, the expulsion of (President) Mugabe should not be misconceived as an electoral reform. Following past electoral clashes, the mere inclusion of the army in the electoral commission should bother anyone. In my opinion this sounds a compromised commission and the election is as good as done. I rest my case!

  15. kkk havasi 15% hindava muchinyepa imi 50% of zec staff are ex soldiers,CIO 30%,the rest are civilian..nothing stays forever..

  16. smtymz munhu anongohumana so. You cant even see that newsday now belongs to team lacoste which the zanu pf of the day not opposition. so when munching your chimodho dont lose your brain uchiti newsday mokonzeresa muri opposition. kana munhu achembera ngazorore kwete kutorera vana mabasa. What special do you know about investigations iwe waitorambira vanhu bail uchitadza kupedza nyaya. If you were a police officer shut up and sleep coz all police officers in here are useless kugona kuba mari dzavanhu chete. Re empoy mugabe ka tione. useless old people.

  17. dont discriminate if soldiers make 15 percent then who makes the 85

  18. The sensitivity of ZEC as an institution and the very compromised history of the elections in this country call for a fresh start if the 2018 elections are to be conducted in a free and transparent manner. Stacking up the ZEC ranks with military people does not auger well for the process. It would be interesting to know the actual roles that these ex-military personnel play within ZEC. I am convinced they occupy some very critical roles.

  19. Only-in-Zimbabwe

    Yeah but zvimwe nezvimwe amai vakanakisa mheni ava….@Priscilla Chigumba

  20. There must be a complete disclosure of the influence, rank and file of the former military men. I believe they are 15% yes but their influence is huge. Senior military men in Zimbabwe have never been nuetral

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