Mugabe ally effectively running election body

Zimbabwe will not have a free and fair election until members of the state security agency (CIO) and former senior soldiers who work for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) have been removed from the secretariat that runs the body.

Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe
Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe

In an interview with SW Radio Africa political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya said despite the appointment of new commissioners in 2010, their influence is largely limited to setting policy and it was in fact the secretariat, still packed with Mugabe cronies, that does the day to day running of elections.

SW Radio Africa understands Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe who was appointed to chair ZEC is not well and his deputy, Joyce Kazembe, a key Mugabe ally, is effectively running the commission. Kazembe has been with ZEC for over 15 years and involved in over 5 disputed elections which Mugabe won.

More recently she was part of the discredited election commission, headed by retired brigadier general George Chiweshe. That commission withheld presidential election results for weeks in March 2008, amid reports the period was used to manipulate figures that denied Tsvangirai an outright victory against Mugabe.

The current Chief Elections Officer is Lovemore Chipunza Sekeramayi, a former member of the Presidents Office. The notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) falls under the Presidents Office and Ruhanya said Sekeramayi’s deployment in such a strategic position was deliberate on Mugabe’s part.

The two directors who work under Sekeramayi, Utoile Silaigwana (Operations) and Notayi Mutemasango (Administration and Finance), are former soldiers fiercely loyal to Mugabe. Silaingwana is responsible for polling, training, election logistics, voter education and public relations for the commission.

Ruhanya said this ZEC secretariat was “responsible for the sham election in June 2008, marked by bloodshed, enforced disappearances and egregious human rights violations which were all in violation of the electoral act.” Despite this the same individuals deemed the one man presidential poll in 2008 free and fair.

“The personnel of the Zimbabwe Election Commission and the Registrar General’s office should be subjected to public scrutiny with a view to increasing public accountability and transparency. These two institutions and the individuals running them have been part of the crisis the country is faced with,” Ruhanya said.

During the 2002 presidential election the recently promoted Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba was the Chief Executive Officer of the commission. He made sure the body was stuffed with soldiers, state security agents and ZANU PF militia. His recruits are still there and will ensure Mugabe wins by hook or crook. – SW Radio Africa News

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