We are concerned that the Zimbabwe Election Commission continues to undermine the fundamental right of citizens to vote, and has abdicated its basic functions as set out in Section 239 of the Constitution. This is more important in respect of ensuring that elections are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law.
Reports by various civil society organisations, which have consistently observed the by-elections, paint towards not administrative and technical failures to fulfil constitutional obligations. We have also observed a worrying trend of unaccountability to election stakeholders and severe resistance to reform. We maintain that in its current state, ZEC under the leadership of Justice Rita Makarau is compromised and is acting in collusion with the ruling party to administer sham elections which produce predetermined outcomes.
We are disturbed with the total disregard to the constitution as it relates to voter registration, ZEC has failed to continuously register voters, compile and make available voters’ rolls and registers and to receive and consider complaints by the public and to take appropriate action on such complaints. We find the use of two voters’ rolls, multiple voter entries, issuing of fake identity cards etc reported in the Chiwundura by-election disturbing barely a year before the general elections of 2018.
We have consistently queried electoral management in Zimbabwe in terms of administration and general conduct in relation to the treatment of election stakeholders and similar issues have been raised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) relating to the use of violence and partisan distribution of food aid by ZANU PF to coerce voters to support their candidates. The conduct by ZANU PF is clearly against the Electoral Act and Constitution. To us the complacence in dealing with politicised traditional leadership structures and politicise food distribution only serves to authenticate our view that elections in Zimbabwe have predetermined outcomes.
We are equally concerned that ZEC is deliberately creating chaos around the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process in preparation to sideline millions of potential voters especially in urban areas. To disenfranchise voters, Makarau and team are putting in place a string of measures to make virtually impossible for the millions of prospective and young urban voters to vote while opening up rural voters to manipulation. This tactic involves the ‘demands of proof of residence for voters and disproportionate allocation of registration centres.’ We contend that actions by ZEC undermine the constitution by disenfranchising the voters.
- We categorically call on Justices Makarau to retract the statement she made before Portfolio Committee on Gender…..that “women should ask their husbands if they are in good books to give them proof of residence”. Such statements are chauvanist, mysoginist and derogative and in this day in age undermine the rights of women.
- Young people must be allowed to register to vote without a proof of residence – Most urban youths do not own homes and find it difficult to obtain proof of residence being demanded by ZEC while those in rural areas will be exposed to the whims of compromised traditional leaders to obtain proof of residence which will be given on condition that each headman will vote with his/her village in the now famous ‘Sabhuku nevanhu vake/usobhuku labantu bakhe’ tactic.
iii. Increase registration centres in urban areas – The disproportionate distribution of registration centres under the proposed BVR is designed to make it cumbersome to register in urban areas while making it easy but albeit much more exposing to register in rural areas. This is summarised in the statements by the Vice President and Minister of Justice Emmerson Mnangangwa during the Chirumhanzu-Zibangwe by-election who said “we now have a system of knowing who will vote and for who they will vote for. We will reward those who vote for us and punish those vote against us…ZANU PF is here to stay.”
- Treat all election stakeholders equally – the current trend where the Zimbabwe Election Commission is conflated with the ruling ZANU PF party is not healthy for the conduct of credible, free and fair elections. ZEC must be depoliticised and conduct its business in an open and transparent manner to all election stakeholders and citizens. The appointment of ZANU PF members to run the commission must stop. On the same note we also call for the demilitarisation of the election commission and the Logistics Committee
We wish to make it clear that in the absence of the above reforms, the 2018 elections will remain a farce and will not pass the minimum benchmarks for credibility, freeness and fairness. It is against this background that CiZC is concerned that the 2018 elections are already being manipulated towards predetermined outcomes and thus by resolution will embark on a ‘Right to Vote Campaign’ in which we emphasize reforms to the Electoral Act, Zimbabwe Election Commission, Political Environment and Culture before any election can be held in Zimbabwe.
Further CiZC will collaborate with broad section of pro-democracy movements to call for a free, fair and credible electoral process. Once again, CiZC emphasises its readiness to fight for a democratic Zimbabwe in which each citizen makes electoral choices freely.Post published in: Featured