Utloile Silaigwana
Utoile Silaigwana
Utoile.jpg

Mr Utloile Silaigwana is the chief elections officer of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. He took over from Mrs Constance Chigwamba on an acting capacity before being appointed as the substantive chief elections officer in 2019.[1]

Personal Details

No information could be found on his age, place of birth, or family.

School / Education

Salaigwana is a holder of several qualifications including a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Zimbabwe, Masters in Electoral Policy and Administration (MEPA) attained from Scuola Superiore Santa Anna University in Italy.

Utoile Silaigwana is also a Building Resources in Democracy Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) accredited facilitator and has facilitated training in several countries in the SADC region.

He is also a holder of several certificates in election management, observation, elections and violence and conflict resolution and a certificate in Leadership and Dialogue for Electoral Stakeholders.[2]

Service/Career

He is a retired Major, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Army Education Corps.

Utoile Silaigwana served in the Electoral Supervisory Commission between 2002 and 2005 as a provincial coordinator. He rose through the ranks to become the deputy chief elections officer in charge of civic and voter education between 2003 and 2004. At the inception of Zec in 2005, Silaigwana was seconded from the army to serve as director for voter education and public relations. He was appointed deputy chief elections officer in charge of operations in 2007.[3]

It must also be noted that he was appointed to ZEC when he was still a serving member of the ZNA and was thus among the people that led to the militarization of ZEC and eventually presided over the 2008 elections whose outcomes were heavily contested.

[4] Nehanda Radio, 15 March 2018; retrieved 5 July 2019

It is pertinent to note that as a serving soldier, Silaigwana was part of the tainted ZEC secretariat that withheld election results for five weeks in 2008 in a plebiscite that SADC and the AU emphatically rejected as not reflective of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

[5] Nehanda Radio, Jul 4, 2019: retrieved 5 July 2019.

He was Acting Chief Elections Officer since March 2018 during which he presided over the 2018 harmonised elections. He has observed elections under the AU Election Observation Mission, ECF-Sadc and Association of Africa Electoral Authorities in Rwanda, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and Namibia.[2]

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chief Elections Officer (substantive), 1 July 2019.

Events

His name appears in a Senate debate, 22 February 2017, on the integrity of ZEC;

Secondly, on the integrity side, ZEC needs to be an independent Commission; the lack of independence of ZEC is illustrated by the Government continuing to control the voters’ roll. It is a constitutional requirement for ZEC to supply opposition parties with an electronic version of the voters’ roll. The one that was used in 2013 and this, they failed to do; they said the computer is broken. This has been the answer for four years. There is a court order saying the 2013 roll must be supplied as soon as the Registrar General’s computer equipment is working. ZEC clearly has access to the 2013 electronic roll because it has been used in bi-elections and the 2013 has been supplied for constituencies where bi-elections has been held.

An application by civil society for the current electronic voters’ roll and that will be the 2013 roll as well as the bi-elections updates got the response that it would be supplied as soon as possible and everybody’s hopes went up, but that never happened. ZEC is controlled by a former Major in the Zimbabwe National Army Captain Utoile Silaigwana. He has admitted to withholding the 2013 roll on orders from somewhere. It will not be possible to properly order the 2018 role unless the 2013 roll is made available for comparison. When you ask ZEC for the 2013 roll… Point of order raised -

Thank you. So, when you ask ZEC for the 2013 voters’ roll they will direct you to the Registrar General and when you ask the Registrar-General for the 2013 voters’ roll he says he has nothing to do with registration anymore. Therefore, control of the voters’ roll is at the core of the control that is needed by Government. So, Government is not following the law in producing the voters’ roll and when a Government does not follow its own law then public trust collapses. So, the independence of ZEC is a crucial thing and I need to illustrate it with one more example. It is about the biometric voters’ roll. So, the UNDP, as you have heard mentioned, agreed to provide technical services around the Biometric Voters’ Roll. They also agreed to pay for the procurement of the equipment and a Procurement Equipment Committee was set up consisting of five people from UNDP and four from ZEC, led by Captain Silaigwana. Once the tenders came in for evaluation, Government, through ZEC realised that they could not control the tender process because there were more UNDP people on the committee. So, the only way to keep control therefore, was to abandon the relationship with UNDP.

[6] Senate Hansard 22 February 2017, Vol 26, No 32; retrieved 5 July 2019.

In an interview with News Day, 1 October 2018, Utoile Silaigwana talked about ZEC’s work outside of major elections. ZEC run by-elections, they train, they are visited by other electoral management bodies (EMBs), they do ‘delimitation’ (setting electoral boundaries based to the number of voters in a geographical area), on-going voter registration, and making recommendations to parliament or internal administrative recommendations resulting from past elections.

Asked if he might resign, he responded,

“What motivates me to keep standing upright is I believe that we conducted this election in terms of the existing law and we did not violate any law; that’s what keeps me standing because perception, well, it’s something else.

As an election manager, I look at the law; have we conducted the elections in terms of the law. Have we provided what is expected of us? Yes

If we had violated the country’s laws in terms of running the elections, I would not be standing upright like now.”

[7]

A delegation from the Elections Board of Ethiopia was in Zimbabwe at that time, and the Elections Management Board of Lesotho also came. “The bottom line is we want to conduct elections based on the principles that are internationally recognised.” [4] Newsday, 1 October 2018; retrieved 5 July 2019

On 31 March 2008, he announced the first parliamentary election results. [5] Mail and Guardian, 31 March 2008; retrieved 5 July 2019.

At [Tendai Biti]’s trial, January and February 2019, he gave evidence. [6] Zimbabwe Situation, 24 January 2019; retrieved 5 July 2019. [7] Zimbabwe Situation, 24 January 2019; retrieved 5 July 2019. [8] Zimbabwe Situation, 7 February 2019; Retrieved 5 July 2019.

During the trial, he admitted:

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s acting chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana, yesterday admitted that the electoral body did not invite chief election agents of political parties to verify last year’s July 30 election results as required by the law.

<ref>[9]<\ref> Zimbabwe Situation 24 January 2019; retrieved 5 July 2019.

The [Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition] (CiZC) issued a statement.


Further Reading

Jul 4, 2019

``History of Zimbabwe’’ [10] Amazon Books; Accessed 5 July 2019.


And; ``Zimbabwe:The End of the First Republic’’ By Jacob W. Chikuhwa [11] Amazon Books; Accessed 5 July 2019.



References

  1. UPDATED: ZEC appoints Silaigwana acting chief elections officer, The Herald, retrieved: 30 Jul 2018
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mashudu Netsianda, Zec appoints substantive Chief Elections Officer, The Chronicle, Published: July 4, 2019, Retrieved: October 19, 2021
  3. Silaigwana appointed substantive Zec CEO, NewsDay, Published:September 15, 2021, Retrieved: October 19, 2021
  4. [1]
  5. [2]
  6. [3]
  7. https://www.newsday.co.zw/2018/10/zec-looks-beyond-july-30-poll/