ZEC admits hiring serving soldiers, CIO spies

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AS the debate around the militarization of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) continues, a senior official has admitted that the election management body employed members of the security services “but they have since resigned”.

Zec commissioner, Joyce Kazembe, in response to questions from journalists, could not say whether new chairperson Priscilla Chigumba had resigned as a High Court judge but argued Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba had served the Commission’s predecessor but never resigned from the army.

Nyikayaramba served as the Electoral Supervisory Commission chief executive office at the turn of the century before returning to the military where he has since been promoted twice now.

“We advertised for the jobs and these people (soldiers and members of the Central Intelligence Organisation) applied like everyone else. These were open advertisements and true at that time they were still actively involved in the military and the police as well as other areas.

“When they excelled in the interviews we then told them to go and resign and they are now governed by our staff rules and disciplinary procedures,” Kazembe said.

Chigumba, early this week, revealed that at least 15% of Zec’s over 380 staff compliment are ex-service personnel but opposition parties and rights groups argue these have not resigned. Kazembe said Zec has no obligation to make its staff records public.

With Chigumba’s predecessor, Rita Makarau, having held three positions while serving as chairperson of the Commission, Kazembe could not say if her new boss has a single job.

“She (Chigumba) is here permanently and will not hear any cases. I am certain that even our former chairperson (Makarau) during her time here never took up any cases besides acting as secretary to the Judicial Service Commission,” Kazembe said.

However Kazembe was at pains arguing Nyikayaramba never resigned.

“He (Nyikayaramba) never resigned. Remember that body was not permanent; ZEC only became permanent in 2007. He never resigned,” said Kazembe.

Makarau served as Zec chairperson and also held the position of a Supreme Court judge as well as the Judicial Services Commission acting secretary.

Government, under former President Robert Mugabe, claimed Nyikayaramba had resigned during the time he served as head of the Electoral Supervisory Commission but he was to later revert to his job in the army when his tour of duty ended.