Editorial Comment: Chance for Zec to redeem itself

Zec owes Zimbabweans an explanation on the criteria being used to hire polling officers to dispel fears of interference.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on Wednesday to choose their leaders for the next five years and once again the world is watching closely to see if the country is able to hold a credible election.

The pre-election environment has been clouded by countless disputes over the nomination of candidates and credibility of the voters’ roll, among other thorny issues.

Former Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, who wanted to run for president, will not be on the ballot paper after the courts concurred with a ruling party activist that he was ineligible because he has lived outside the country for more than 18 months.

Kasukuwere fled to exile in South Africa after the coup that toppled Robert Mugabe six years ago as he felt that his life was in danger.

His disqualification has already put a stain on the election.

As has become the norm under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rule, the country’s main opposition party has not been given room to campaign freely.

Police banned the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) campaign launch rally that was scheduled for Bindura on flimsy grounds last month.

Scores of CCC activists have  been arrested for mobilising for their party.

There are also incidents of sporadic violence across the country with members of the opposition party being the major targets. 

Some Zanu PF candidates are accused of massive vote buying.

While it may be too late to salvage the integrity of this election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) can still redeem itself by ensuring the vote is not manipulated.

There are already concerns that Zec is deploying people aligned to the ruling party to be polling officers and that is certainly a recipe for disaster if true.

The elections management body is supposed to act independently and the reports of Zanu PF deployees being drafted to run the polls will fuel perceptions that Zec is allowing itself to be manipulated by the ruling party.

Zec owes Zimbabweans an explanation on the criteria being used to hire polling officers to dispel fears of interference.

The commission must strictly adhere to the electoral laws to minimise disputes and chances of the results being rejected.

In the last election, scores of Zimbabweans lost their lives following delays in the release of presidential poll results and a repeat of that sad episode must be avoided at all costs.

It is against that background that Zec is encouraged to reassert its independence and deliver an election whose outcome will not be contested.

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