LEGISLATIVE watchdog, Veritas has accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of compromising its credibility by needlessly defending court challenges filed against it, instead of leaving the task to the Attorney-General’s Office.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Veritas said it should not be Zec’s duty, but the Justice ministry and the Attorney General’s Office to contest electoral cases brought against it “since Zec cannot control what the law says”.
Zec is under pressure to hold a free, fair and credible election, with opposition parties accusing the electoral body of distributing a fake voters’ roll to rig the polls in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.
However, Zec, which of late has been flooded with court challenges over its handling of matters in the run-up to the July 30 elections, denies the charges.
“Zec is usually cited as a respondent in electoral cases, but this is simply because Zec is an interested party. It does not mean that Zec should always contest the cases. If a case involves interpretation of the law and the Constitution, it is not really Zec’s concern since Zec cannot control what the law says,” Veritas argued.
“Hence, if a person goes to court challenging the validity of a provision of the Electoral Act, it is up to the Attorney-General’s Office or the Ministry of Justice to oppose or not oppose the challenge.
“Zec is an independent constitutional commission and should preserve its impartiality at all costs. Zec’s course is to abide by the decision of the court: that is to say, to leave it to government to contest the challenge and to act in conformity with whatever the court may decide. In that way, Zec will remain impartial and will avoid incurring heavy legal costs.”
However, Zec commissioner Qhubani Moyo said the electoral body would not tire to defend itself and respond to every court application against it.
“It’s quite inconceivable that a watchdog like Veritas would want to have a free reign in court and not want the commission to respond where there are issues of dispute,” Moyo said in a telephone interview.
“We will respond in terms of what we believe is right in terms of the provision of the law. We respond to every application that warrants us to respond.”