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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
ZEC LOGO.jpg
ZEC Logo
Electoral Council overview
Formed 2004
Headquarters Mahachi Quantum Building,Number 1 Nelson Mandela Avenue, Harare
Footnotes
Contact 263-4-781903, 263- 4-770340, 263-4-774095

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is an independent body which controls and or manages all election processes at all levels in Zimbabwe. Despite being registered as a non-partisan body, ZEC has been criticised for aligning itself with the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) since its formation.

Background

ZEC was established in 2004 to control and manage as well as overseeing all electoral processes in the country. The establishment of ZEC was necessitated by position political parties and civil organisations which were disgruntled by the activities of the Registrar General's office as well as the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) which supervised the conduct of elections in the country from 1980.[1] The formation of ZEC was also came up about as a result of the adoption of the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections which adopted by SADC Heads of State and Governments at the SADC Summit that was held in Mauritius in 2004. The principles stipulated that, elections were to be run by an independent management body and not by a government department. [1] Functions of ZEC

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has the following functions as according to the terms of Section 239 of the new constitution is to

  1. To prepare for, conduct and supervise elections to the office of President and to Parliament, elections to provincial and metropolitan councils and the governing bodies of local authorities, elections of members of the National Council of Chiefs established by section 285, referendums and to ensure that those elections and referendums are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law
  2. To supervise elections of the President of the Senate and the Speaker and to ensure that those elections are conducted efficiently and in accordance with the law
  3. To register voters
  4. To compile voters’ rolls and registers
  5. To ensure the proper custody and maintenance of voters’ rolls and registers
  6. To delimit constituencies, wards and other electoral boundaries
  7. To design, print and distribute ballot papers, approve the form of and procure ballot boxes, and establish and operate polling centres
  8. To conduct and supervise voter education
  9. To accredit observers of elections and referendum
  10. To give instructions to persons in the employment of the State or of a local authority for the purpose of ensuring the efficient, free, fair, proper and transparent conduct of any election or referendum
  11. To receive and consider complaints from the public and to take such action in regard to the complaints as it considers appropriate.[2]
Irregularities of the Council

Despite registered as an independent body which is non-partisan, ZEC has been criticised for being aligned to ZANU PF. The appointment of ZEC employees has also been a cause of concern and this has been pointed as being a deliberate attempt to wield out those opposed to ZANU PF. The Chairperson of ZEC is appointed by the President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (PCSRO).[3] The eight commissioners of ZEC are also appointed by the President from a list of not fewer than twelve nominees submitted by the PCSRO.[3] In 2012 while addressing delegates at a workshop, Commissioner Bessie Nhandara admitted that some of the electoral body's employees were once employed in the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).[4] Before the coveted July 31, 2013 elections, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) called for the demilitarisation of ZEC.[4] In the wake of the above, ZEC has bee accused of being politicised by ZANU PF, enabling ZANU PF to win in the country's past elections. The current ZEC Chairperson, is Justice Rita Makarau, who was once a Member of Parliament under the ZANU PF ticket. The Special Vote arrangement whereby members from the disciplined forces are expected to cast their votes 16 days before the polls has been a cause of concern.[3] Prior to the 2008 elections, the PCSRO was dominated by ZANU PF and this subsequently entails that the perception of those to be selected as members of ZEC was biased. This saw the selection ans appointment of Justice Mtambanengwe as the Chairperson of ZEC although the Movement for Democratic Change proposed candidate, Professor Reginald Austin, was more qualified and experienced.[3] In 2012, the Acting Chairperson of ZEC, Mrs Joyce Kazembe announced that ZEC was going to remove dead people's names from the voter's roll.[5] She was quoted saying,

The law says we have to assist the Registrar General to remove names of dead people from the voter's roll or those that have been out of the country for more than 12 months. However, that is based on the willingness of the people to cooperate and remove these people.[5]

ZEC also failed to fulfil their constitutional mandate to provide all political parties with an electronic copy of the voters roll in the build up of the July 2013 elections. ZEC defended itself arguing that, their machines had developed a technical fault and therefore it was unable to provide all political parties with the electronic copies of the voters roll.[6] In the election build up, Makarau announced for the first time that ZEC will take disciplinary action against journalist for being biased towards ZANU PF.[7] This however never came to pass. Opposition parties and civic society organisations criticised the outcome of the July 2013 elections citing these irregularities which they believed were orchestrated by ZEC to sabotage other political parties. The elections also witnessed a high number of people who were chased away on the basis of being ineligible to vote as well as a high number of people who were assisted to vote by the body. In spite of this however, ZEC received a vote of confidence through the unanimous election of Makarau as the President of the SADC Electoral Commission Forum in August 2013.[8] Dumiso Dabengwa, who is the current president of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), in December 2014 filed as application at the Electoral Court seeking to compel ZEC to take over the duties of the voter registration, maintaining the voter's roll and register in line with the new constitution.[9] This show that, ZEC is failing to perform. Dabengwa who was represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights stated that

Since 10 August 2013, when Section 239 (1)became operative but ZEC has not yet complied with the law, that is registering voters on a continuous basis as well as ensuring that the public has access to inspecting the voter's roll.[9]
Voter's Roll for 2018 Elections

ZEC announced that there is no existing Voter's Roll and that all people who want to vote in the 2018 Elections, should register afresh using Biometric Voter Registration (BVR). References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Historical Background, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, published:2014,retrieved:21 January 2015"
  2. Functions of ZEC, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, published:2014,retrieved:21 January 2015"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Derek Matyszak, THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION AND THE 2013 POLL: AN APPRAISAL, RAU, published:Dec 2014,retrieved:21 January 2015"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Elias Mambo, shake-up looms at scandal-ridden Zec, The Independent, published:11 Jul 2014,retrieved:"
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hebert Zharare, ZEC, RG to clean up voters' roll, The Herald, published:30 Oct 2012,retrieved:21 January 2015"
  6. Zenzele Ndebele, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Failed Zimbabweans, Radio Dialogue, published:6 Aug 2013,retrieved:21 January 2015"
  7. Electoral Commission vows to end media bias ahead of Zimbabwe elections, Zimbabwe Investor, published:17 Jun 2013,retrieved:21 January 2015"
  8. Kuda Bwititi, Major plus for Zimbabwe electoral system, The Sunday Mail, published:31 Aug 2014,retrieved:21 January 2015"
  9. 9.0 9.1 Daniel Nemakuyu, Dabengwa sues electoral commission, The Herald, published:11 Dec 2014,retrieved:21 January 2015"