BY BLESSED MHLANGA
OPPOSITION MDC leader Nelson Chamisa’s bid to overturn President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in last year’s polls on grounds of legitimacy has been overtaken by events because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has effectively put the 2018 electoral cycle to bed, with preparations for the next round of elections gaining momentum.
In her opening remarks at the national multi-stakeholder post-election conference in Nyanga yesterday, Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the commission was now conducting an introspection of the 2018 election cycle to assess its shortcomings and seek ways to improve its management of future polls.
“The main thrust of this conference is to introspect on the 2018 harmonised elections as the commission seeks to formally bring the 2018 election cycle to its logical conclusion in preparation for the 2019-2023 election cycle,” she said.
Chamisa has insisted that he won the general elections despite losing a Constitutional Court challenge and often calls Mnangagwa an illegitimate President. He also wants political dialogue to address the question of Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.
Chigumba said the commission was aware of the various concerns raised by political parties and civil society groups, adding that the conference would strive to address them.
“Key objectives are to assess the adequacy challenges of the legal framework supporting various stages of the 2018 harmonised electoral process and recommend improvements to it,” she said.
Political parties and election observer bodies have raised concerns over the transmitting of election results, management of the elections by Zec, especially the logistics committee which they have said should be disbanded.
Without addressing the specific issues, Chigumba said it was imperative for Zec to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of its internal control systems, address any loopholes, evaluate the funding mechanism and their effects on the various stages of the 2018 electoral processes and recommend a way forward.
Speaking on behalf of Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, permanent secretary Virginia Mabiza urged Zec to be proactive and forward recommendations of any legal nature early to ensure that amendments are done in time.
“There is need to forward recommendations that are of a legal nature early to Parliament in order for the necessary amendments to be effected before the 2023 general election.
My ministry appeals to Zec to bring forward issues arising from the conference that require amendment of the law early,” she said.
Zec can now recommend reforms to the Electoral Act following the amendment of section 5 of the Electoral Act and does not have to wait for Parliament or the Executive to table amendments in the management of polls.
Mabiza said government was committed to review laws and the environment to ensure that the next elections are held in a situation which does not result in disputes arising.
She said an inter-ministerial taskforce chaired by the Justice ministry was working around the clock to ensure that all disputes and grey areas are addressed by 2023.
“It is my fervent hope that issues arising from this conference together with recommendations by the Motlanthe Commission should be addressed before the 2023 general elections,” she said.
The conference, which is being supported by the European Union, the South African-based Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa and the Switzerland embassy, is being attended by political parties, civic organisations, chiefs, embassy officials and faith-based organisations, among others.