RUNNING a smooth, credible, free and fair election can never be rocket science unless one has something to hide. Nigeria’s recent election where opposition’s Muhammadu Buhari beat incumbent Goodluck Jonathan who was quick to concede defeat makes Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) commissioners look like naked clowns in a kindergarten.
All in all, Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) registered just under 70 million voters of which 29 million turned out to vote. The number of those who voted is more than twice Zimbabwe’s total population and nearly five times the total number of Zimbabwe’s registered voters of which just over half of that bother to cast their vote. In our environment, have elections become nothing more than a formal routine or necessary evil.
Nigeria’s election agency, INEC, deployed simple technology such as biometric profiling of voters which was very successful in detecting and eliminating multiple voters. Several Nigerians attempted to register multiple times using different names but the system easily picked them up and those people had their profiles posted on INEC’s website – in typical name and shame fashion.
The voters’ roll was never a private document kept under the registrar-general’s pillow or at some army barrack. Rather, it was posted on the website and is still available for anybody to see. During voting, multitudes of Nigerians cast their votes with very insignificant incidents or disturbances. There was no intimidation by the army or police except for threats from Boka Haram, itself an illegal outfit. The opposition participated confidently, knowing INEC’s impartiality.
After voting, it did not take long for voters to know the results as INEC published them as and when they came in. There was no interference from the security establishments or the government during this important process. At the polling stations, unless someone was trying to carry out a fraudulent activity by voting multiple times or they were not on the voters roll, everybody was allowed to cast their vote peacefully. Traditional leaders were not seen frog-marching their subjects to polling booths and telling them how to vote. Teachers and other literate voters did not seek assistance to vote on the pretext of not being able to read and write.
Prior to that, the campaign period was largely peaceful. The police did not disrupt opposition rallies on the order of a partisan police commissioner-general. The state did not sponsor militias to man the roads and harass innocent travellers. Generals who wanted to participate in the election had to take off their uniforms first, vacate the barracks and go onto the streets to campaign just like any other civilian candidate. They never issued orders from their cantonments directing people on how to vote.Advertisement
The Nigerian experience clearly demonstrates that ZEC and the Zanu PF government are totally out of their depth in terms of running smooth, free and fair elections. President Robert Mugabe, in his undeserved capacity as chairperson for African Union, must be terribly ashamed, assuming he still has any semblance of conscience.
Our serious call to Rita Makarau and ZEC is that they must now put their act together or resign en masse so that Zimbabwe can move forward. We can’t afford to have our elections perpetually run by clowns and thugs masquerading as ZEC.
Isn’t it a shameful paradox that Zimbabweans boast of being the most literate African nation and yet we can’t do basic things like organising and running a simple election where a miserly three million voters participate? ZEC must seriously reflect on the Nigerian lessons and either shape up or ship out.
Moses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and interim Secretary General for Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE). You may visit ZUNDE at www.zunde.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org