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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
treading on thin line as polls beckon
Patrice Makova,The Standard (Zimbabwe)
July 14, 2013
Electoral Commission (ZEC) is treading on a thin line as the electoral
body prepares to conduct
and supervise the July 31 polls amid mixed views over its performance.
ZEC has long
been perceived as being biased.
In the March
2008 elections, when the electoral body was chaired by Justice
George Chiweshe, results were suppressed for several weeks while
securocrats allegedly decided on a plan of action.
election run-off was eventually ordered on June 27 after no candidate
garnered a 51% majority, amid concerns that the long delay in issuing
results was an attempt to rig the outcome in favour of President
Morgan Tsvangirai had won the first round with 47% of the vote,
with Mugabe getting 43%.
But the results
of the subsequent run-off were not recognised as credible by the
international community due to widespread violence and intimidation
of opposition supporters.
While some analysts
were of the opinion that the new leadership of ZEC was doing its
best to be professional and transparent, especially after Justice
Rita Makarau took over as chairperson, others say the electoral
body is still compromised because of its long association with the
appointed ZEC chairperson in March, a few days before the Constitutional
Referendum, taking over from Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe who resigned
in February for unclear reasons after two years at the helm of the
Resource Centre (ERC) director, Tawanda Chimhini said Makarau
had brought some breath of fresh air to the electoral body.
tried to not only engage with election stakeholders, but also to
be accountable through answering raised concerns in a “balanced
and sober” manner, he said.
also provided some balance to ZEC given the baggage that members
of the former commission carry,” said Chimhini.
he said, ZEC has appeared more interested in approaching the July
31 election quantitatively rather than qualitatively.
the preoccupation appears to be to complete electoral processes
at a cosmetic level rather that fulfilling their constitutional
mandate of delivery processes that allow full, equal and effective
participation in a transparent and credible electoral process,”
Clever Bere said Makarau has so far been firm and tried to bring
credibility to the electoral processes.
decision not to accredit
the Jimmy Carter Foundation has done harm to their efforts. The
running of the election itself is the one thing that is going to
give us the opportunity to get to see her true credentials,”
in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) executive director, MacDonald Lewanika
said the entrance of Makarau as ZEC chairperson was a good thing
as she was a respectable judge.
He said Makarau
has shown that she has the capacity to make critical decisions,
citing the extension of the sitting of the nomination courts and
voter registration to midnight of June 28 and July 09 respectively.
responsive to urgent issues, but what has happened so far is not
enough to judge her conclusively,” said Lewanika.
But he said
ZEC’s performance would be judged on the way it conducts itself
during the ongoing campaign period and the efficiency and transparency
in dealing with poll results.
ZEC has been hesitant to take responsibility and ownership of some
of the electoral processes such as the voter registration exercise,
carried out by the Registrar General’s Office.
He said the
nomination court sat with no observers in place, while Civil Society
Organisations (CSO’s) were only recently accredited to conduct
some form of voter education.
The CiZC director
said the electoral body has also failed to prevent biased reporting
and hate speech by state-controlled media. The Electoral Act compels
public media to ensure fair coverage of all political parties during
the campaign period.
Elections Support Network (ZESN) chairperson, Rev Solomon Zwana
also agreed that ZEC has tried its best in consulting stakeholders
and being objective as much as possible.
But Zwana said
ZEC has on the other hand shown serious limitation in controlling
supporting organisations such as the Police and the RG’s office.
limitation has affected their capacity to deliver,” he said.
“If they [ZEC] are the core of the electoral process, then
they need to have authority and control over everything.”
Zwana said the
country’s legislation has to be amended to ensure that ZEC
was in full control of all supportive institutions during the election
Agenda executive director, Thabani Nyoni said showing a friendly
face and merely consulting stakeholders without taking on board
their suggestions was not enough to convince people that ZEC was
acting above board.
He said it was
difficult for ZEC to do work considered credible considering the
organisation’s history and strong links with Zanu PF and securocrats.
Nyoni said while
ZEC was saying it was ready to conduct the elections; treasury has
indicated that there was no money for the exercise.
He said there
was no clarity on how 87 000 people, mostly police officers and
soldiers, were allowed to take part in the special vote which begins
Only time will
tell whether Makarau and ZEC will be able to stand up to the massive
pressures from the political and military establishments in order
to organise credible elections, analysts said.
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