HARARE - Analysts yesterday accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of displaying “astounding double standards” by declaring Keith Guzah as the new MP for Hurungwe West although he was not registered to vote there.
They said it had not been lost to observers and Zimbabweans at large that Zec’s alleged “duplicity” had come hardly six months after it had scuttled former central bank governor Gideon Gono’s Senate bid, ostensibly because he was not registered as a voter in Manicaland.
Gono was nominated by Zanu PF’s Manicaland’s province in December last year to become senator for Buhera West to replace the late liberation struggle stalwart Kumbirai Kangai, who died in August last year and had been declared a national hero.
But the statutory electoral body said in an unequivocal January 2015 letter to then Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo that the retired Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor did not qualify for the senate seat as he was not a registered voter for any ward in Manicaland, as demanded by law.
This was despite the fact that Gono had duly transferred as a voter from Harare to Buhera West on December 5, 2013.
Under-fire Zec chairperson Rita Makarau said at the time that Gono’s registration, transfer from Harare to Buhera West was done by the registrar of voters, Tobaiwa Mudede, when at law Mudede had ceased to conduct such duties on July 20, 2013 — which duties she claimed had since been transferred to her organisation.
Shadreck Chipanga subsequently took up the seat that had been earmarked for Gono.
The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) think-tank said yesterday that Zec’s conduct in the Hurungwe West by-election pointed to the “duplicity and complicity of the electoral management body and Zanu PF in the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe”.
“The inconsistencies and controversies mainly on Zec’s explanation of how Zanu PF’s candidate Mr Guzah won is a microcosm of a bigger and deeper credibility and lack of transparency associated with Zec’s management of elections in Zimbabwe.
“The inconsistencies that marred the by-election suggest that elections in Zimbabwe could be devoid of any meaning and reduced to mere contests whose outcome is predetermined,” ZDI said, adding that it feared that Zec’s secretariat was stuffed with spies
“For instance, the recently-appointed chief elections officer of Zec, Mrs Constance Chigwamba, has been a long-serving member of the executive whose last appointment was permanent secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet,” ZDI said.
It said the functioning of Zec must not be subjected to the direction of any individual, authority or political party.
“Zec must function without political preferentialism or prejudice,” ZDI said.
Analyst Shepherd Mntungwa said “most rational people were still mystified” how Makarau had declared Keith Guzah winner of the Hurungwe West parliamentary seat even though he was not on the register of voters and was thus unable to vote in the June 10 by-election.
“Surely, this can’t be right? What has changed if this is not to be interpreted as double standards and duplicity on the part of Zec,” he said.
But in her controversial statement on the matter on Monday, Makarau said, “On polling day, Keith Guzah was denied the right to vote as his name was not on the voters’ roll for Hurungwe West (because) the commission had issued a position statement that only those on the voters’ rolls would be allowed to vote.
“His (Guzah’s) old block number was captured as his new block number and the transfer was therefore not effected on the computer. He was retained on the voters’ roll for Magunje.”
But according to the Electoral Act, section 45 D subsection (2), a person shall not be qualified for nomination as a party list candidate for an electoral province in terms of section 45C if he or she is not registered on a voters’ roll in a ward belonging to a constituency in the electoral province.
“If our understanding of the law is correct, and many legal heavyweights say this understanding is correct, how then did the Zec chairperson still manage to go on and declare that Guzah had been lawfully and procedurally nominated as a candidate for the Hurungwe West by-election,” Mntungwa asked.
Makarau said on the basis of the above transfer, Guzah was duly nominated as a candidate for Hurungwe West on April 8, adding that his name was not electronically captured onto the Hurungwe West roll “because of a transposition of the block numbers relating to his old and new registrations”.
Gono, who left the RBZ at the end of 2013, having been at the helm of the central bank for 10 years, told the Daily News yesterday that he was not bitter with Zec’s perplexing rulings.
“I am on record countless times stating that as citizens, we must respect those in authority and charged with discharging certain technical functions, be it in government or society in general.
“The same applies to authorities such as Zec. They (Zec) deserve everyone’s respect and support regardless of whether one agrees with a particular ruling or not. They are the authority charged with the country’s electoral matters.
“My case is a long closed chapter and there is a sitting senator already, Cde Shadreck Chipanga, whom I respect and I am at peace with whatever happened.
“I neither contested what Zec said at that time nor did I go to court to challenge them. That position has not changed. I thus have, as they say, no dog in this fight and will never have one,” Gono said.
The losing Hurungwe West candidate, Temba Mliswa, has said that he is approaching the courts to compel Zec to declare him the duly-elected MP, arguing that the purported nomination of Guzah as a candidate was null and void “ab initio” (from the beginning).