THE bickering between the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and opposition MDC-T and MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa is unfortunate and tragic, as this could produce a disputed election result.
It boggles the mind why Zec chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba, has reportedly refused to avail to the opposition the electronic voters’ roll as per their demand, especially if, indeed, she has given the British embassy, Zanu PF and others copies of the roll.
It is still not yet lost to citizens that our previous elections have always been dogged by controversy, especially 2002 and 2008 putting opposition supporters’ lives in danger.
Chigumba’s belligerence and refusal to play ball might not help the country, and we urge her to act as required by the Constitution. Her utterances that if not satisfied the opposition could only raise complaints over the quality of the voters’ roll and other election-related matters after the poll date is despicable.
We believe that Chigumba — a learned judge — should understand better that Zimbabweans are smarter than what she thinks, hence it is critical for her to run a controversy-free election.
We do not hold any brief for any party, but our fears are tha the controversy surrounding the voters’ roll could easily put Zimbabwe on the edge. No doubt that electoral malpractice or rigging includes a wide range of illegal, illicit and even violent practices designed to influence the outcome of an election to substitute personal or partisan benefit for the public interest.
We know that attempts to influence the outcome of the election are systemic or isolated, but the perpetrators are constantly refining their techniques.
Is it not true that any electoral malpractice must be addressed in a timely manner to prevent its spread throughout the system of governance? We believe electoral malpractice is a very serious concern during campaigns, voting day operations, vote count and tabulation, among other stages of the electoral cycle, and hence it is not out of this world for the opposition to demand transparency in the preparation and handling of this poll before, during and after.
The failure or refusal to act in a wide range of areas from voter registration manipulation to refusal to consider electoral dispute adjudication claims; acts of deception from padding voter registers to falsification of results; acts of coercion including violence and intimidation; and acts of destruction from polling station capture to stealing and spoiling ballots are all acts of electoral malpractices which must be removed from this election.
Indeed, the perpetrators of malpractice innovate so as to subtly muzzle the electoral integrity system, which is a critical feature of a functioning oversight system that includes electoral integrity agents.
The opposition may be in a panic mode, but Zec must prove that they are transparent in their handling of the election.
Chigumba cannot claim to follow the law otherwise President Emmerson Mnangagwa could not have proclaimed the election date before the voters’ roll was ready.
Zec actions are tragic, no doubt, and if not dealt with will produce a blemished result, making it difficult for the winner to engage the international community.
This is only due to Zec’s refusal to share details on the voters’ roll, refusing inspection of the voters’ roll so that the public can give feedback as they do not want any form of oversight and accountability. Citizens interests are paramount over any narrow-minded views. Zec can do better!