Zimbabwe's Chief Elections Officer Urges Against Hate As Family Faces Persecution
The Chief Elections Officer of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Mr Utoile Silaigwana, has said his family is being persecuted for executing his duties as a ZEC officer. He urged political players and opinion leaders to avoid fueling hate and division in the country, particularly during the harmonised elections. In an interview, Silaigwana stated that the electoral process comes and goes, with the nation reverting back to its development agenda, and there is no need to turn it into a war. He highlighted that ZEC officials were simply tasked with presiding over the process, as guided by legal provisions. He told The Sunday News:
Our people forget that as an electoral officer I have rights that must be respected, my rights must not be infringed upon by anyone. Even the Constitution states that when you exercise your rights make sure that those rights do not infringe on another person’s rights. I have been attacked; my family has been attacked.
At one point I had my two daughters at some boarding school in Matabeleland South traumatised by teachers. I had to drive all the way from Harare to see the school head. I did not fight, I just asked to see the teachers and ask them why they were doing that.Feedback
Those are the things I am sometimes subjected to, as if I am not a citizen of this country with rights. I also had a situation where my family car was burnt when my child was inside. This is what I come across but people forget that if it was not me here managing the elections it was going to be someone else doing the same thing. What we are saying is why should we turn the election environment into a battlefield.
Silaigwana also noted that it was essential for political players to prioritize the nation ahead of their personal interests, adding that elections should be contested within the confines of the law and in a way that agrees to disagree. He encouraged people to evaluate and analyze information they receive via social media and seek correct information from the institution mandated to run the election. Silaigwana further reiterated that the electoral process included every stakeholder, inclusive of the public, and all should work together to ensure the successful running of the elections.
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Mr. Siliagwana defended the State’s funding of ZEC, stating that every country in the world funds its election management body. He also refuted claims that elections must be run by non-citizens, highlighting that he has the right to vote and run elections. He emphasized the importance of doing his job independently and challenged people to show where ZEC was not independent. Additionally, he explained that ZEC’s primary stakeholder is the ordinary voter, and they design voter education material and the ballot paper without bias towards any political party.
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