Zec responds to MDC Alliance petition

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Justice Priscilla Chigumba

Justice Priscilla Chigumba

Thandeka Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) has said some of the items contained in an MDC Alliance petition on electoral reforms are misdirected as they cannot be legally dealt with by the commission.

The commission said it could not accede to the Alliance’s demands to delay the elections as that was the duty of the courts.

The MDC Alliance had demanded an electronic copy of the provisional voters’ roll, an independent external audit of the voters’ roll, retirement of alleged security personnel within Zec, access to BVR servers, removal of alleged military presence in rural areas and queried the establishment of additional polling stations.

The Alliance also wanted enablement of the Diaspora vote, disbanding of the accreditation committee, inclusion in procurement and movement of the ballot papers among other issues.

The MDC Alliance held a march last week in Harare and handed the petition over to Zec raising issues which the Alliance wants addressed as conditions precedent to the upcoming July 30 harmonised elections.

On the Diaspora vote, the Commission said it stands guided by the Supreme Court which says there will be no Diaspora vote for the pending elections.

In a statement yesterday, Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the Commission was going out of its way to engage stakeholders on electoral processes and issues as it is in sync with regional and international standards.

“With regards to provision of the provisional voters’ roll, the demand by the Alliance is premature. We provided a read only copy of the printed voters’ roll because it is subject to correction. It is only rational that in the circumstances, for the commission to be allowed to complete its process and produce a new voters’ roll which stakeholders would have every right to raise questions and objections on. The commission is at the tail end of the process of cleaning and updating the roll following the inspection period which was conducted from May 19 to 29,” said Justice Chigumba.

She said members of the public were free to go and inspect the voters’ roll at any Zec office during working hours.

“The Alliance is also free to undertake an independent external audit on its own or in collaboration with other stakeholders and share recommendations with the commission,” Justice Chigumba said.

According to Zec, all stakeholders were addressed on conducting an independent external audit of the voters’ roll and such a request from any stakeholder lacks legal basis.

“One of the issues raised in the petition had to do with the procurement and movement of the ballot paper and I would like to reinforce that such is the exclusive right of the commission in terms of Section 239 of the Constitution.

She added: “This is an administrative matter for which the commission is not subject to the direction or control of any person. However, as a consensus building gesture in order to foster transparency, the commission has resolved to allow political parties and other stakeholders to observe the printing of the ballots when the time comes.”

Zec denied the existence of serving members of the security forces within its establishment.

Justice Chigumba said the commission did not have power to disband the accreditation committee as the issue is for the legislature.

“The issue of the use of food and inputs as political weapons is not for the Commission. This also applies to the demilitarisation of rural areas as the Commission has no knowledge of such,” she said.

“Our response to the conditions precedent for holding elections, our response would be the Commission is bound by the Constitution to carry out its mandate. Once a proclamation has been issued it is required by law to proceed with preparations for elections and it can only be stopped by a court of law”.

Justice Chigumba said the MDC Alliance or any other stakeholder cannot access the BVR servers as they are still a security issue.

“The issue of access to the server is controlled in the same way as is the case with all institutions that keep custody of information of a security or confidential nature. We also encourage stakeholders not to mystify the issue of additional polling stations as we have allowed the creation of sub polling stations for a polling area where the threshold of voters exceeds its set limit,” she said.

According to Justice Chigumba, plans to decentralise the accreditation centres are at advanced stages.

The Alliance had raised concern on equal access to the media by parties contesting the election.

Justice Chigumba said: “The Commission has written to the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe in line with section 160 of the Electoral Act. The best time to ensure there is access to and equal coverage of all political parties by the media would be after June 14 when the Commission knows who will be contesting.”

Zec has said the BVR system is tamper proof and makes it impossible to rig the election.

President Mnangagwa has repeatedly assured the world that the elections will be free, fair and credible.

The Government has invited neutral observers from all over the world to monitor the process.

@thamamoe