Reprimand Chiefs, ZEC Urged

Perturbed by the actions of the Chiefs Council recently, the Election Resource Centre (ERC), has written to the authorities demanding the rebuking of the Chiefs Council on the recent pronouncements pledging their allegiance to President Robert Mugabe in 2018 general elections.

The ERC has written to the chapter 12 institutions of the constitution, that is the election management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC). The third letter was addressed to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

Addressing delegates at the just ended annual general meeting of traditional leaders in Bulawayo, the President of the Chiefs vowed to support President Robert Mugabe and his party in 2018 general elections.

Concerned about the utterances the ERC called upon the ZEC to reproach the traditional leaders as their utterances are in violation of constitutional provisions in Chapter 15 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe

“The ERC calls upon the Commission to issue a public statement reprimanding the Chief’s Council against acting unconstitutionally,” the ERC said in the statement adding that “Importantly, the pronouncements by the traditional leaders have severe implications on the credibility, freeness and fairness of Zimbabwe’s electoral processes. It is within ZEC’s mandate to safeguard principles of elections as espoused in Section 155(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

The ERC noted with concern recent pronouncements by traditional leaders at their annual general meeting held in Bulawayo on Friday 27 October 2017 where they pledged to support President Robert Mugabe and his party, ZANU PF.

Section 281(2) of the constitution clearly states that traditional leaders must not- (a) be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics; (b) act in a partisan manner (c) further interests of any political party or cause; or (d) violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.

To ZHRC the ERC said the previous roles of traditional leaders in previous acrimonious elections in Zimbabwe is well documented.

“In recent years, traditional leaders have been fingered by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) in Hurungwe West by election conducted in 2015.  The ERC looks forward to the Commission comprehensively and decisively addressing this issue as it has the potential of singularly deciding the fate of 2018 harmonized elections,” reads part of the letter.

The ERC noted that “public caution and reprimand will do justice towards detecting and deterring possible abuses and unconstitutional practices” ahead of the 2018 harmonised election.

The ZRP was urged to detect, investigate and prevent crime and also uphold the constitution and to enforce the constitution without fear or favor as stipulated on Section 219(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“The ERC looks forward to urgent and decisive action against such threats to the peace of the Zimbabwe,” reads part of the letter to the police.

The think tank and advocacy institution insisted that early warning mechanisms need to be instituted urgently.