Local news

Rights defenders, commentators blast ZEC intolerance

By Nkosana Dlamini

TOP rights defenders in Bulawayo have scorned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s apparent impatience with Zanu PF opponents and ordinary locals’ demands for greater transparency in its handling of the country’s controversial polls.

At an Election Resource Centre and Zimbabwe Christian Alliance organised SAPES Trust dialogue meeting held in the city on Friday, speakers took ZEC to task over continued failure to come clean on suspected meddling in electoral processes by the country’s partisan military.

ZEC commissioner Qhubani Moyo, who was part of the audience, was at pains to distance the under-fire election management authority from any manipulation by the ruling Zanu PF party.

He also denied ZEC was staffed with serving military personnel whose task was to manipulate systems to tilt the vote in Zanu PF’s favour.

Moyo said all their operations were tamper-proof as they were anchored by the national constitution.

But SAPES Trust executive chairperson, Ibbo Mandaza was quick to remind the ZEC officials the military was all capable of overturning processes at the flick of a second as did happen with the November 2017 coup.

“I think you (Moyo) are too confident and are forgetting there was a coup in November. We have an unconstitutional government right now,” Dr Mandaza said.

International human rights lawyer, Sipho Malunga said the onus to prove allegations of rigging and military interference in poll processes rested with ZEC.

“The electoral commission itself is the one that is conducting the elections. It must assure the public. It is not for the public to prove anything. It is for the electoral commission to prove and assert and assure the public of its independence.

I am a lawyer myself. We cannot impose the burden of proof on the public. The assurance of a free and fair election must be secured and obtained by the people managing the election. It’s for them to assure the public and not for the public to assure itself.”

Political and social analyst, Sibonokuhle Ncube called on ZEC to step up to the plate and start imposing sanctions in cases of election corruption and impunity.

Gary Murambiwa
the authorGary Murambiwa