The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been accused of killing voter and stakeholder confidence in the electoral systems following remarks it made recently regarding the voters’ roll
This follows comments by ZEC Chief Elections Officer Utloile Silaigwana who said the electoral body will not allow for an independent audit of the voters’ roll as it is against the Electoral Act.
However, an election watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) said ZEC is shooting itself in the foot by choosing to choose sections of the constitution to follow while playing blind to others which creates voter apathy.
ERC said the comments are unfortunate, dent the image of the Electoral Body and negatively impact citizens and stakeholder trust in the work of the Commission at a time when the Commission ought to be restoring public trust and confidence ahead of the 2023 Harmonised Elections
“We are appalled by the statement issued by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on the 28 of May 2022 headed ‘Issuance of Voters Roll’ in which the Commission abhors that it has no legal standing to provide the voters roll outside of an election and it will not be bound by any findings of ‘independent audits’ as they are not provided for in the Electoral Act,” ERC said in a statement.
It further stated that ZEC is bound by the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Chapter 1 Section 3 (2) which emphasizes the need for good governance, which binds the State and all institutions, including transparency, justice, accountability and responsiveness.
ERC said ZEC cannot, by its very nature of creation, shy away from complying with these constitutional principles.
“For the Commission to selectively choose which sections to comply with is unexpected and concerning. ZEC must restore confidence in its work by constantly making the voters’ roll accessible to the public and addressing concerns raised by stakeholders.
“ERC reiterates that ZEC is duty-bound in reference to the aspirations of Section 194 (1) (h) of the Constitution. Transparency in election administration must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information,” the statement further reads.
ERC encouraged ZEC to not only reflect on what is inscribed in the Electoral Act but to look at the Constitution of Zimbabwe in a holistic manner in order to further the agenda of a free, fair and credible electoral process in Zimbabwe.
“Section 62 (1) of the Constitution further stipulates that every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent residence, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of government at every level, insofar as the information is required in the interest of public accountability.
“ERC contends that all these provisions are sufficiently binding and have a direct bearing on the conduct of the Commission and in that regard, ZEC must always be seen to be complying with the provisions,” the electoral watchdog said.
It noted that as Zimbabwe prepares to undertake the Delimitation of Electoral Boundaries and many other electoral activities geared towards the 2023 Harmonized Elections, due consideration must be taken to ensure that stakeholders’ and citizens’ concerns are sincerely addressed without window dressing.