ZEC gags employees as rift among commissioners widen; sacks spokesperson

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By Reason Razao |Senior Reporter

UNDERFIRE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson Priscilla Chigumba has evoked statutory powers as part of stepped up efforts to muzzle and gag information flow following the gazetting of the highly disputed delimitation report ahead of the crunch 2023 polls.

Chigumba who has been at odds with fellow ZEC commissioners after they wrote a letter to President Mnangagwa dismissing the delimitation report said only three officials from the electoral governing body were allowed to speak to the media and the public.

The move effectively stripped ZEC’s spokesperson Jasper Mangwana, who was one of the seven commissioners, and the body’s communication department null.

“In terms of the Electoral Act and by operation of law and virtue of condition of service, oath of office and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission public relations and communications policy of 2020, the following are the three officials statutorily designated to be spokespersons of ZEC

“Chairperson Justice Pricilla Chigumba, Deputy Chairperson Ambassador Rodney Kiwa and Chief Elections Officer Utoile Silaigwana,” Chigumba said in a press statement.

“In light of the above, members of the public and the electorate are hereby advised that with effect from 20 February 2023 the above mentioned three people are the exclusive spokespersons of ZEC.

“The public is further advised that in terms of the ZEC Communication Policy, questions, queries and requests for interviews should be directed to the chief elections officer,” she added.

According to Chigumba, the office of the ZEC Chairperson has up to three days to respond to queries by the public.

Tension at ZEC has been boiling after seven commissioners in January rejected the preliminary delimitation report.

In a letter seen by, seven out of nine commissioners want elections held under the old delimitation report.

The commissioners said it was impossible for them to create a new voters roll considering the time left before this year’s general election as the report created new boundaries which have a direct effect on resource allocation, service provision and general community development.

They commissioners also added the new report lacked transparency.