The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has failed to meet its legal and constitutional obligation to provide election materials timely with reference to the voters roll and as such it owes the people of Zimbabwe an apology rather than a mouthful of arrogance by suggesting that if they are any anomalies in the voters roll we should stomach it and raise any complaints after the election and that only an earthquake will stop the election.
I respectfully disagree with the judge because in my layman’s view the law says the opposite. In Makamure vs Mutongwi 1998(2) ZLR 154 at 169, Devittie J, as he then was, referring to remedies occasioned by a defective voters roll said, “Irregularities complained of could and ought to have been raised in the pre-election period. A postponement of the election could have been sought a party does not have to wait until the entire electoral process is completed.”
In the circumstances the ZEC Chair’s comments are a cause for concern. Our election must be conducted in terms of the constitution and as such must be grounded on the principles of freeness, fairness and transparency as outlined in the constitution.
With all due respect to the Chairperson of ZEC, Justice Chigumba, these utterances are not expected from a Public officer whose task amongst others is to instill confidence in an electoral process by assuring the nation that preparations for the plebiscite are being done with due care and transparently.
Zec has known for five years after the last election that it needed to prepare a new roll, allow people to inspect a provisional roll and raise any objections in it at inspection stage and then provide a roll before the proclamation of the election date and most importantly before the sitting of the nomination court.
As the representative of a Presidential candidate I was entitled to receive the National voters roll before the nomination court. To-date we do not have that roll which they said will be availed on Thursday. This is unacceptable. On Thursday I expect to receive a biometric voters roll because that’s what the law demands in addition to receiving the roll in any form I choose including electronic.
The credibility of any election amongst other things depends on the existence and availability to all players of a credible voter’s roll that is distributed timely. If there are any anomalies in the roll they must be corrected before the election.
We do recognize and respect ZEC’s role as a referee in this election but it is important that ZEC understands that other than an earthquake, the players on July 30 can stop the election by refusing to participate in a sham.
In addition, outside an earthquake, and the players, the people of Zimbabwe who are tired of these shenanigans can refuse to participate in the said sham election that would have failed to meet the test outlined in our constitution and the enabling electoral act and ZEC regulations irrespective of what ZEC says.
ZEC’s efforts must therefore be directed at assuring the public that it is doing all it can to conduct a free, fair and credible election and be seen to be doing so. That’s their duty period.
Chief Election Agent for President Nelson Chamisa