REFORMS to Zimbabwe’s contentious election laws will remain superficial to the actual management of polls unless there were material changes to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s most important committees, the opposition MDC-T has said.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora told NewsDay yesterday that while proposed changes to the Electoral Act might go a long way to creating a level playing field, Zec had a “dark committee” that literally was in charge of the whole election process, but run by the State.
“The proposed amendments to the Electoral Act do not touch the real fundamentals in terms of election management. They do not provide for the external auditing of the voters’ roll or allow stakeholder input into the printing of ballots,” he said.
“Most importantly though, Zec’s logistics committee remains in the hands of the State. Run by officials seconded from the military, the police and Central Intelligence Organisation. This is the most important committee yet Zec staffers do not have control over its operations. There is need to de-militarise this committee if our elections are to be truly credible, free and fair.”
Zimbabwe’s main political protagonists represented in Parliament were locked in discussions to amend the country’s poll regulations as part of concerted efforts to create a playfield with a semblance of fairness ahead of a crucial general election expected in a few months’ time.
The opposition had listed a litany of demands, with presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa representing the MDC Alliance, a loose coalition of the MDC-T and fringe parties, declaring there would be no election in Zimbabwe without concrete reforms.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, keen to make a clean break from his predecessor Robert Mugabe’s perennially disputed elections, has consistently pronounced his wish for a clean poll.
While Mwonzora and the MDC-T, in particular, continue to wail about a constricted political playfield, Zanu PF argues the opposition was scrambling for scapegoats in the face of an electoral annihilation.
Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said the committee was a creature of Zec.
“Zec is running its business without interference from Zanu PF or the government. We are happy and all we wait for as Zanu PF is for Zec to provide all necessary logistics that will allow Zimbabweans to freely choose their leaders,” he said.
“The MDC will always complain because they do not have support on the ground. They can certainly smell an electoral defeat and are already looking around for reasons to explain their impending loss. They are looking for excuses to explain their perennial failure to win elections.”
Zec acting chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana requested questions in writing, but had not responded at the time of going to print.