Fresh probe red flags Zec ahead of polls
Zimbabwe Civil Society Anti-Corruption Coalition (ZCSACC), a grouping of 22 organisations drawn from diverse sectors, has produced a damning report on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), saying the election management body is not fit to hold credible polls next year.
The civil society organisations say Zec is tainted and lacks credibility as well as transparency. The report, whose release coincided with International Anti-Corruption Day which has been commemorated annually on 9 December since 2003, is titled “Nature, Prevalence and Impact of Electoral Corruption in Zimbabwe”.
In the executive summary of the report, the coalition says it commissioned the research in a bid to understand the nature, prevalence, extent and impact of electoral corruption in Zimbabwe, learning from effects witnessed in countries such as Kenya, Gambia, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo and São Tomé and Príncipe.
“The study was intended to give recommendations calculated to improve the integrity of Zimbabwean elections. Obliterating cases of electoral corruption is part of strategies to prevent protracted litigation that often leads to heightened tensions between political opponents and the resultant tension erupting into violence leading to unnecessary deaths, and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” reads part of the executive summary.
During the research, people were interviewed across the country.
The first finding reads: “The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is largely perceived as lacking independence due to its conduct, and the composition of its commissioners that is made up of individuals who are allegedly aligned to the ruling Zanu PF political party.”
The report also highlights that Zec’s use of public sector workers in its electoral processes, especially teachers, is against the constitution since the educators are now divided into various Zanu PF-aligned campaign groups like “Teachers for ED”.
“The abuse of the civil service for political gain is rampant. Teachers who are part of the political campaign are used by Zec as election presiding officers, polling officers, civic educators, delimitation commission officers and many other roles in contravention of section 200 of the constitution of Zimbabwe.”
“In addition to the voters’ roll costing an exorbitant fee of US$187 000 to access it, the one that will be used for the 2023 harmonised elections was reported to be shambolic, which calls for serious scrutiny and audit for it to be credible. Whilst section 35 of the Electoral Act gives the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) the power to ensure the integrity of the roll, there was a feeling that the EMB [election management body] has no interest to clean it for the benefit of certain political players in the country.
“There are several anomalies that include multiple registrants using the same address and non-existent addresses. By making the voters’ roll expensive and shambolic, Zec wants to hide its shortcomings that might be used to rig the 2023 plebiscite.”
“There is a need to overhaul Zec to ensure its operational independence. This should be done by ensuring that the composition of its board and staff is constituted by individuals who are independent of any political establishments in the country. The interview process should be credible, especially regarding the appointments to the board to avoid appointees who are largely politically exposed,” reads part of the report.
Of late, Team Pachedu, an independent electoral watchdog led by citizens, has also exposed the misdemeanors of Zec and called for the body to be disbanded in view of its partisan actions calculated to favour Zanu PF.
Team Pachedu revealed that there were several records belonging to one person in the Zec voters’ roll, which means that a single person can vote twice in two neighbouring wards or constituencies.
According to Team Pachedu, this has the potential of compromising the delimitation process. For instance, Team Pachedu reports that the de limitation roll had 118 dubious voters claiming to be resident in central Harare and these were virtually registered on the same day.
One of the addresses given was a commercial property where nobody, in fact, stays there. The latest civil society report also raises the red flag on the composition of the Zec board, which now features Abigail Millicent Mohadi Ambrose, daughter of Zanu PF’s second secretary Kembo Mohadi.
Obert Chinhamo, the director of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) the coordinator of the coalition, said the report was authentic.
“Data was obtained through a questionnaire that was administered on a wide spectrum of stakeholders and key informants. The questionnaires were administered online, through email and WhatsApp platforms. The questionnaires had the advantage of obtaining data more efficiently in terms of time, energy and costs.”
“To increase the response rate, some respondents were met face-to-face. Primary and secondary sources of data included 23 members of the Zimbabwe Civil Society Anti-Corruption Coalition.” “In terms of geographical scope, interviews were carried out in Matabeleland South, Midlands, Matabeleland North, Mashonaland East, Harare, and Manicaland provinces of Zimbabwe. The majority of the respondents were males (73%), whilst women only constituted 27%. This was beyond the control of the research team since the majority of the men completed the questionnaire online,” he said.