ERC lays into ZEC, after electoral body refuses to release voters roll

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By Anna Chibamu

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is selectively choosing sections of the constitution to abide by, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has said.

In a statement on MondayERC raised concerns about ZEC’s behaviour alleging the commission’s statements on the issuance of the voters roll were impacting negatively on the citizens and stakeholder trust.

“We are appalled by the statement issued by ZEC headed “Issuance of Voters Roll” in which the commission abhors that it has no legal standing to provide the voters roll outside of an election and it will not be bound by any findings of “independent audits” as they are not provided for in the Electoral Act.

“The comments are unfortunate, dent the image of the electoral body and negatively impact citizens and stakeholder trust in the work of the commission at a time when the commission ought to be restoring public trust and confidence ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections,” read part of ERC’s statement.

“ZEC cannot by its very nature of creation shy away from complying with these constitutional principles. For the Commission to selectively choose which sections to comply with is unexpected and concerning,” ERC said.

ERC urged ZEC to restore confidence in its work through constantly making the voters roll accessible to the public and addressing concerns raised by stakeholders.

“ZEC is duty bound in reference to the aspirations of Section 194 (1) (h) of the Constitution. Transparency in election administration must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information.

“It is from this backdrop that we encourage Zec to, not only reflect on what is inscribed in the Electoral Act but to look at the Constitution of Zimbabwe in a holistic manner in order to further the agenda of a free, fair and credible electoral process in Zimbabwe.”

According to ERC, Section 62 (1) of the Constitution stipulates that every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of government at every level, insofar as the information is required in the interest of public accountability.

Added the election watchdog: “ERC contends that all these provisions are sufficiently binding and have a direct bearing on the conduct of the Commission and in that regard ZEC must always be seen to be complying with the provisions.

“As Zimbabwe prepares to undertake the delimitation of electoral boundaries and many other electoral activities geared towards the 2023 harmonised elections, due consideration must be taken to ensure that stakeholders and citizens’ concerns are sincerely addressed without window dressing.”

ZEC has been caught offside over the past months by online pressure group Team Pachedu, opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and political analysts to which it has professed innocence.