THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) never ceases to amaze.
Its penchant to always blame someone or something for its own failures is incredible.
Now Zec is suggesting that elections are a security threat.
Speaking during a pre-delimitation stakeholder meeting with journalists in Harare yesterday, Zec deputy chairperson Rodney Kiwa is reported to have said: “The 2023 harmonised elections are literally around the corner, the election mood is obviously palpable. Elections are also exercises in the management of emotions, and politicians are masters in whipping them. Elections have become a national security issue. Elections have become a divisive rather than a unifying factor in this country. We have a country to build for future generations, let us all leave a legacy that will be admired by our children which is anchored on tolerance and responsible leadership.”
Pardon us, maybe we are not that well-schooled in electoral processes and what elections entail, but this is the first time to hear that elections can be a security threat. Neither have we seen or heard of an election unifying people, especially the pre-poll period. Where on earth have protagonists united in an election? Elections are not love games, or are they? Can you please school us Zec?
Inadvertently, Zec may have exposed its alleged close links to the ruling Zanu PF party. Since when have elections been a security issue? What security do the elections threaten?
Zimbabwe is going into an election as it has always done every five years since independence in 1980. Zanu PF has always somehow dominated the ballot for the past 42 years, although on a number of occasions it has been upset by the opposition; and never did we ever hear that the elections had become a security issue.
Zec’s curious sentiments seem to suggest that a serious challenge to Zanu PF rule should be seen as a security threat. It sounds like an organisation trying to abdicate its responsibility.
According to Zec’s own mission statement the organisation’s mandate is simply: “To prepare for, conduct and supervise elections and referendums in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe guided by the electoral cycle and electoral management best practices in collaboration with stakeholders.”
So we wonder where Zec is getting this curious idea of elections turning into a security issue.
Elections are fundamentally emotive and politicians have the right to whip up emotions of their supporters (not to be violent of course) as they sell their manifestos. And by nature manifestos never agree. They naturally divide opinion and people, but always for the good of the nation.
People fight each other, not physically, in an election and then unite after the election and support the winner for national development. And it is never vice versa that a nation unites before an election as Zec seems to be suggesting.
However, the post-poll unity is only possible if institutions like Zec conduct elections in a free, fair and transparent way, which is what people have been telling the commission to do because in the past its conduct of elections has been questionable and always found wanting.
Zec’s conduct of elections should never raise eyebrows if it is fair and transparent. Zec should level the playing field for all political players and for as long as the field is lopsided, it will forever be at the receiving end of insults and accusations.
All we are saying is: Zec should never be found wanting in terms of “preparing for, conducting and supervising elections and referendums” as dictated by the country’s Constitution.
This viewing polls as a security issue is Zec’s new strategy of shirking its responsibility.