A REPORT by the Zimbabwe Civil Society Anti-Corruption Coalition (ZCSACC) has claimed that electoral corruption is rampant and has flourished with impunity in the country.
ZCSACC decried abuse of electoral legal and policy frameworks and lack of independence of the electoral management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) which it said undermined the credibility of elections.
The watchdog said the electoral cycle was often manipulated by State and non-State actors in order to give advantage to some political players.
“These cases continue to rise due to the fact that institutions mandated to fight electoral corruption such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), Zec, the National Prosecuting Authority, and the Judicial Services Commission, among others turn a blind eye to electoral corruption,” the ZCSACC report read.
It said Zec was largely perceived as biased and lacking independence to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
“This is because of the composition of its board which does not guarantee it as an independent body since most of its commissioners are allegedly linked to the ruling party. Acts of electoral corruption have a harmful effect on development since it leads to conflicts and controversial electoral outcomes. Apart from destroying economies and societies, it subverts and undermines the principle of free choice thereby rendering an election open to contestation,” ZCSACC said.
ZCSACC documented examples of electoral corruption in Zimbabwe, saying these include manipulation of voters (the electorate) through vote-buying and violence, and manipulation of Zec, which is perceived as lacking independence from the Executive and some political parties, among others.
“There is manipulation of electoral laws and policies for political gain and the alleged manipulation of the voters’ roll, the Electoral Court, broadcasting services, and the Political Finances Act,” ZCSACC said, adding that the country’s civil servants were also being abused and frog-marched to political campaigns.
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ZCSACC said the participation of civil servants as Zec election presiding officers, polling officers, civic educators, delimitation officers, among other roles also casts doubt on the credibility of Zimbabwean elections.
ZCSACC urged political parties to develop policies that discourage electoral corruption.
“Government should ensure that the Electoral Court is constituted by judges drawn from individual judges from other countries in the world, especially from the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) member States.”
In response to issues raised in the report, Zec spokesperson Jasper Mangwana said: “Zec is not aware of this report. However, Zec is an independent commission as stipulated by the Constitution. Its operations are governed by the law and we make decisions to ensure we administer the Electoral Act and all other relevant laws pertaining to the conduct of elections and referendums. We are also not sure of the cases they are referring to pertaining to electoral fraud. We would greatly appreciate if they give us more details.”