HARARE - Bungling by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) in the conduct of the recent Hurungwe West parliamentary by-election could be a harbinger of worse things, come 2018 general elections, unless urgent electoral reforms are implemented in earnest.
Rita Makarau, Zec’s chairperson surprised all and sundry after issuing out a controversial statement — which also smacks heavily of selective application of the law — defending Keith Guzah as the duly elected legislator for Hurungwe West when his name did not appear on the voters’ roll for that constituency and could not even vote in the June 10 by-election.
As if this was not enough, Makarau was at pains to explain that “Guzah’s old block number was captured as his new block number and the transfer was therefore not effected on the computer”.
Under Makarau’s leadership, Zec has demonstrated that without urgent reforms which should have been implemented before the 2013 general elections, the electoral management body will continue to preside over elections that will continue to produce contested results.
Guzah even exposed Zec’s shortcomings when asked if his name was on the voters’ roll, saying he had used his registration slip to vote, something that Makarau emphatically said was impossible.
The electoral management body is indeed sleeping on the job.
Temba Mliswa, the losing Hurungwe West candidate has said he will approach the courts to compel Zec to declare him the duly elected Member of Parliament, arguing that the purported nomination of Guzah as a candidate was null and void.
Zec’s running of elections points to the duplicity and complicity of itself and Zanu PF in the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe.
This comes as the same body hardly six months after scuttling former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono’s Buhera West Senate bid because he was not registered as a voter there, selectively alters the law to suit Guzah and at large, Zanu PF’s interests.
It is perplexing that Makarau talks of Guzah’s name not having been electronically captured onto the voters’ roll at such a convenient time yet Zec has always failed to provide an electronic voters’ roll since it took over voter registration, keeping and maintenance of the voters’ roll from the Registrar-General’s Office.
Zec has a huge task of re-gaining the confidence of the sceptical electorate and must demonstrate its independence and ability to run credible elections.
The Makarau-led organisation should start by cleaning up the voters’ roll so as to regain its credibility and good standing.
Zec must stop this bungling, stop acting like a Zanu PF offshoot and start functioning without political prejudice.