ON February 3, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba submitted what she called a final delimitation report to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Justice Chigumba said she expected Mnangagwa to gazette the report within 14 days. However, that claim immediately drew brickbats from government officials in Mnangagwa’s office.
“We have noted several social media reports to the effect that the final delimitation report has been presented to the President. The final report has NOT yet been presented to His Excellency. When that happens, the public will be informed,” Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana tweeted.
Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba also told a State-run weekly newspaper that Justice Chigumba had submitted a draft report to the President.
“What the chair lady of Zec gave the President was the preliminary report, as amended by the reactions from both Parliament and the President,” Charamba said.
So, what is happening here? Zec needs to clear the air on what is going on. The confusion at the commission is so deep that the normally unflappable Zec spokesperson, Jasper Mangwana refused to comment, referring the question to Justice Chigumba.
But constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said the questions arising from Zec’s actions could trigger a constitutional crisis.
“Whether the report submitted is final or not should not be a private issue. Everyone at Zec from the messenger to the doorman should know the act position on that report,” Madhuku said.
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“This is a simple issue. That answer is a very critical one that must be given to the public so that they are informed of the correct position. No one must put pressure on the President but on Zec. It has the mandate to manage elections and not the President.”
Speaking on a Twitter Space earlier in the week Tuesday, Madhuku noted that there was no constitutional provision that obliged Zec to submit a revised draft report.
“There is a problem relating to what it is that Zec can give to the president,” he said.
“It must give to the President a final report. The Constitution does not have provisions for anything else after Zec has received comments to its preliminary report. Its next interaction with the President is final, that is what the Constitution contemplates. As we stand now, there are now two versions: the electoral commission chairperson says she gave the president a final report which would mean that the president must now go to the next stage within 14 days of gazetting that.
“But the President’s Office says that they have not yet received the final report. They have received what they are calling a revised preliminary delimitation report. I must make it clear that there is no provision for what is called a revised preliminary report.”
As a result, Madhuku said Mnangagwa could skip the gazetting the delimitation report within the 14 days prescribed by the Constitution.
Chief director for presidential communications Anyway Mutambudzi’s response to the question of the delimitation report was interesting: “We all know that Zec is the one running the game. Zec should tell you whether the report submitted to the president was final or not.”
The ball is in Zec’s court to clear the confusion.