Some people have said that no one with half a brain and committed to delivering free, fair and credible elections would ever accept being appointed in any capacity in Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC); not until the democratic reforms agreed in the 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA) are implemented. Without the reforms the commission is just a toothless and voiceless Chihuahua guarding a field from marauding herd of elephants.
President Mnangagwa appointed Justice Priscilla Chigumba ZEC chairperson to replace Rita Makarau. If our new ZEC Chihuahua thought she was going impressed anyone with her shrew squeak she could not have been more disappointing.
“Past elections in Zimbabwe have been conducted under a politically polarised environment. This was clear even in the biased media reports in previous elections. The issue of polarisation is one which I see as a major challenge to the electoral environment as it potentially fans politically motivated violence and lack of tolerance by opposing parties,” wrote Chigumba in Zimeye opinion.
“I, therefore, intend to continue engagement with all the stakeholders, especially the political parties, to encourage them to adhere to their code of conduct for the avoidance of potentially dangerous confrontation.”
Zimbabwe’s a multi-party democracy, at least it should be, and per se will be politically polarised. As an experience lawyer and judge, one would have thought she would be familiar with the adversarial contest in the court room; the rigorous testing of the other side’s case and surgical cross-examination of every detail has never resulted in a free for all brawl but the opposite – delivered the whole truth and nothing but the truth and thus justice.
Similarly, the multi-party system can help deliver a good government by making sure every policy is closely scrutinised and those in positions of power and authority are held to account at all times. The reason why there has been violence and mayhem in our politics is because those in power have deliberately corrupted the system to stifle debate and democratic competition to create a de facto one-party state for the selfish purpose of enjoying absolute power and the influence and wealth that it brings.
ZEC’s primary purpose is to make sure the elections are conducted in such a manner as to deliver free, fair and verifiable elections in keeping with the country’s multi-party democratic values and NOT the de facto one-party system Zanu PF has imposed on the nation.
The reason why everyone has been calling to the implementation of the raft of democratic reforms agreed in the GPA is because it is not only up to ZEC alone to stop the political violence, for example. ZEC will need the Police to investigate and arrest all those responsible for political violence. Justice Chigumba should know that the ZRP have very rarely arrested Zanu PF thugs accused of violence, Indeed, ZRP officers have even arrested the opposition members even when they are clearly the victims!
The July 2013 elections were relatively peaceful because Zanu PF was able to blatantly rig the vote. ZEC failed to produce a verified voters’ roll before the elections, this is a legal requirement, and Zanu PF was able to deny many people the vote because their details were not in the constituency voters’ roll they expected. Meanwhile, the regime was able bus its supporters from one polling station to the next casting multiple votes. Zanu PF would have not got away with this if ZEC had produced a verifiable voters’ roll.
The new BVR registration exercise should have started no later than January 2015, only started September 2017 and will stop end of this week. Millions will be denied the vote because there was no time to register them. Worse still there is no way ZEC will be able to produce a verified voters’ roll.
There is no way the elections can ever be free, fair and credible when there is no verified voters’ roll. It would be easier for a Chihuahua to wrap its jaw round an elephant’s foot that to hold credible elections with no way of verifying who is eligible to vote, who voted, etc.
“The other challenge, as I am advised, may be the issue of resources. I understand that the Commission submitted to Treasury a budget of US$148 million for conducting elections, and Treasury has committed to funding approximately US$98 million of the said budget,” continued Justice Chigumba.
Many people believe Zanu PF will spend as much as $10 billion in bankrolling all its vote rigging schemes. The party splashed $12 million on new twin cab trucks for Chiefs, for example. Making sure ZEC is starved of funds is a deliberate act to designed to undermine the commission, its effectiveness and independence.
ZEC, Police and all the other compromised public officials are paid and paid well to cooperate with Zanu PF’s no-regime-change agenda. They go through the motions of fulfilling their set public duties of delivering free and fair elections or whatever. People like ZEC chairperson, Chigumba, should not insult our intelligence by pretending there is dignity in selling out the nation.
To start with, the country cannot afford this criminal waste of money on an election process everyone knows in flawed and illegal.
“Zimbabwe needs an estimated US$65 million weekly for drugs but treasury can only disburse US$3 million weekly,” according to James Thompson, in Spotlight Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is in this economic mess which has seen unemployment rate soaring to 90%, basic service like health and education collapse, 72.3% of our live on US$1.00 or less a day, etc. all because the nation has been stuck with this corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF dictatorship for 38 years. Zimbabwe cannot afford yet another rigged election and yet, thanks to our breathtakingly incompetent and corrupt public officials like Justice Chigumba, that is exactly where we are going.