Be Trustworthy, ZEC Told

Following last week’s ‘shambolic’ postal voting by members of the uniformed forces, a legal think-tank organisation, Veritas Zimbabwe has called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to build trust among election stakeholders by ensuring that all electoral processes are conducted transparently.

This comes after reports of police officers in Bulawayo allegedly casting their votes under the watchful eyes of their superiors which irked the opposition and civil society groups in the country.

In a statement, Veritas Zimbabwe said ZEC’s task is not just to conduct the elections freely and fairly but to convince everyone–  candidates, parties, observers and the Zimbabwean public, that the elections are indeed free and fair.

“In other words, ZEC must build trust by ensuring that all electoral processes are conducted transparently. Postal voting has been controversial in past elections, so ZEC should have taken steps for voting by police and Defence Force members to be observed by accredited election observers and election agents.

“Although the Electoral Act does not require it, as we have said, ZEC could legitimately, under section 352 of the Constitution, have directed the police and Defence Force authorities to see that their members voted by post in the presence of observers.  If ZEC had done this, the renewed controversy over postal voting would not have arisen,” said Veritas.

In terms of section 72 of the Electoral Act, the only people who can vote by post are registered voters who, on polling day, will be unable to vote at their polling station because:

i) they will be on duty as members of a disciplined force [i.e. police officers, prison officers or members of the Defence Forces] or as electoral officers [i.e. employees of ZEC on electoral duty or persons seconded to ZEC to perform electoral duties]

ii)they will be outside Zimbabwe in the service of the government [normally as diplomatic or consular officials] or because they are married to such an official.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has repeatedly assured the nation and the rest of world that Zimbabwe will have free and fair elections but indications on the ground point to the contrary with the just ended postal voting pointing to a sinister plot to manipulate polls in favour of the ruling Zanu PF.