ZEC threatens to dump grumbling political parties from poll processes

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By Anna Chibamu

ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (ZEC) chair, Priscilla Chigumba has threatened to abandon the poll management authority’s regular update meetings with political parties, insisting their efforts were not being welcomed.

She said this at a media briefing in Harare on Monday.

Zimbabwe has three weeks left of a watershed poll in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa faces a tough test from MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.

Meanwhile, the country’s poll management body has been inundated with opposition and civil society demands to ensure strict compliance with electoral laws.

The opposition is adamant ZEC is being hand-held by their common competitor, Zanu PF to tilt the July 30 vote in the ruling party’s favour.

In attempts to instil greater transparency in poll processes, ZEC introduced consultative meetings with political parties but these have turned acrimonious after the opposition has besieged the authority with endless demands.

The decision to allow political parties to observe the printing of the ballot paper recently elicited more controversy as the opposition demanded closer association with the process.

But Chigumba has admitted that there was no consensus between the electoral body and political parties as she threatened to drop them in the ongoing consultations.

This, she said, has left her organisation with no option but to ensure political parties stayed clear of all poll management processes.

“We are not supposed to include political parties in the printing of ballot papers. Sanctioning and prerogative of the printing of the ballot paper lies with the Commission alone,” Chigumba said.

“We have the exclusive constitutional mandate to procure ballot paper, to design it, to print it and to distribute it.

“The reason why we keep having disputes around these areas is that the law does not provide that members of the public or political parties be involved in these processes.”

Chigumba added: “Our law provides that only Zec can do these processes. Despite that ZEC considered that in the interest of inclusivity, and in order to build a consensus, why don’t we allow political parties to sit down and discuss the modalities and then view the printing of the ballot paper.

“We still have conflict because there is no legal framework on how to conduct some of the processes.

“Political parties will never be satisfied because there is no legal framework. We have tried and we have not closed the door.”

The ZEC boss said they were going to sit Tuesday to decide on whether to continue involving political parties.

The MDC Alliance led by Chamisa has led the push for ZEC to play to the rules of the game and has called for a protest this Wednesday to buttress its calls.

Chigumba revealed ZEC has completed the decryption of the voters who registered after the inspection period and their names now appear on the final voters’ roll which has 5,695,706 voters.

Zec has established a total of 10,985 polling stations countrywide and recruited has recruited 130,000 election officers.

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