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chigumba ZEC Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
File pic: Priscilla Chigumba, ZEC Chairperson during the 2018 elections

Editorials

Bogus elections must end

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WEDNESDAY 23 February 2022 will go down as one of the most critical moments in Zimbabwe’s shameful history of bogus elections.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba (pictured) blew her top during a Multi-Party Liaison Committee meeting. What ticked her off was a forthright question from Jacob Mafume, who was representing the opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change.

Mafume, who has been repeatedly suspended from the post of Harare mayor by the Zanu PF government, asked a straightforward question about the scandalous anomalies which have been unearthed in the shambolic voters’ roll.

Chigumba, who has not inspired much confidence in running the electoral supervisory body — and this is a monumental under-statement — would have none of it.

Her reaction is emblematic of the catastrophic manner in which Zec conducts elections in this country. If Chigumba has nothing to hide, why is she reacting in such kneejerk fashion? There is really no need to get hot under the collar.

We need to remind Chigumba — and those she reports to — that legitimate authority is derived from the consent of the governed.

Chapter one of the national constitution enunciates nine founding values and principles of the republic. One of them is good governance. Among the defining traits of good governance — which bind the state and all its institutions at every level — is the element of a democratic electoral system based on: universal adult suffrage and equality of votes; free, fair and regular elections; and adequate representation of the electorate.

Free, fair and credible elections are a constitutional stipulation and this imperative cannot be flouted by anyone under the sun.

The constitution does not stop there. It stipulates another central plank of good governance: “Respect for the rights of all political parties”. And on this one Chigumba and her team have fallen flat on their faces.

On 20 February, the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition CCC held their star rallies. The police imposed unrealistic conditions on CCC, such as a prohibition on the busing in of party supporters, but there were no such impossible conditions for Zanu PF. Why has Zec remained silent in the face of such blatant bias?

 Where was Chigumba during the CCC rally in Highfield when police unleashed draconian tactics on opposition supporters in futile attempts to block them from reaching the venue?

Meanwhile, Zanu PF proceeded with its Marondera rally unmolested. What kind of contest is Zec running when the opposition is routinely barred from freely mobilising suppporters, yet the ruling party is not subjected to similar treatment? How on earth do you bar the opposition from transporting its supporters?

The political chicanery even extended to cyber censorship. Internet connectivity was clearly throttled, in a deliberate ploy to sabotage the livestreaming of the opposition campaign launch.

We did not see a statement of condemnation from Chigumba. She is sleeping on the job!

The anomalies in the voters’ roll which have been exposed are not a laughing matter. Zec must stop gaslighting citizens and begin honestly addressing these genuine concerns.

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