THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has admitted to employing serving members of the army, the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) before forcing them to resign, a commissioner has said.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA\RICHARD CHIDZA
Zec commissioner Joyce Kazembe told a media briefing in Harare yesterday that the now “former” servicemen and women were at the time of interviews and appointment still serving.
Kazembe, however, could not say whether the new Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba had resigned from her job at the High Court.
“We advertised for the jobs and they applied like everyone else. These were open advertisements. Yes, at that time they were still actively involved in the military and the police as well as other areas, after they succeeded in the interviews we then told them to go and resign. They did that, we see nothing wrong with that,” Kazembe said.
Chigumba’s predecessor Rita Makarau held three positions during her tenure as head of the poll management body. Makarau was also acting secretary at the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), as well as her position as a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court.
“She (Chigumba) is here permanently and will not hear any cases. I am certain that even our former chairperson (Makarau) during her time here never took up any cases besides acting as secretary to JSC,” Kazembe, who could not provide answers as to whether Makarau had continued to draw a salary from the bench, said.
The opposition has been calling on Zec to rid itself of all military and security personnel, saying their continued employment at the electoral body violated the Constitution and compromised the credibility of the polls.
Chigumba on Monday told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice that at least 15% of the Zec secretariat of 383 members are “former members of the security services”.
Reminded that Zec’s predecessor, the Electoral Supervisory Commission had employed now Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba as its boss and that at the time it had been reported that he had resigned before he inexplicably returned to his job with the army, Kazembe swore, the army chief never resigned. “He (Nyikayaramba) never resigned. Remember that body was not permanent; Zec only became permanent in 2007. He never resigned,” Kazembe said almost animatedly.
MDC-T acting spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo said her party had been vindicated.
“We have told the whole world that Zanu PF is using State institutions to rig elections and this admission is evidence. If President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa is genuine about a free and fair election he should allow for the chlorination of Zec and removal of these military people whose continued presence will dent the credibility of the electoral process,” she said.
Khumalo’s comments were echoed by the National People’s Party spokesperson Gift Nyandoro, who said Zec’s admission cements the perception that Zimbabwe was under military rule.
Kazembe, who stood in for Chigumba, also told reporters that Bulawayo and Matabeland South had shunned the biometric voter registration by recording the lowest number of voters registered so far.
“Highest proportion of registered voters recorded in Harare at 14,4% of the total followed by Midlands at 13,8%. Lowest proportion of registered voters recorded in Bulawayo with 4,1% of the total followed by Matabeleland South with 4,8%,” Kazembe said.