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.

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

Contents

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 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 Commission

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 weed 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 and 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).

Failure to produce verified voters' roll

ZEC failed to produce the verified voter's roll despite several demands from opposition parties who claimed that without the voter's roll the election would not be free and fair. Confusion reigned supreme over the release of the voters' roll with contesting political parties denying claims by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) the document has been availed to them.[10]

Saying No To Voters’ Roll Audit By External Chartered Accountants

Justice Priscilla Chigumba the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) revealed that the elections body had turned down a request for the Biometric Voters Roll (BVR) to be audited by external chartered accountants. Justice Chigumba said that the such an act was illegal under the law, and said that people were free to audit the roll at their cost.[11]


Chigumba said,

The request was made that Zec undertakes an audit of the voters’ roll by engaging chartered accountants and our response was that the auditing of the voters’ roll was provided for in the law and as Zec, we shall produce a provisional voters’ roll, which shall be subjected to the electorate for inspection and correction. This is an audit that is provided for by the law. So, anyone, who wants to have the voters’ roll audited, even in America or anywhere, they are free to come and collect the roll and do the audit on their own and bring matters that they would have noted for correction

Voter's roll inspection

The voters’ roll inspection programme started on May 19 and ended on the 29th of May 2018.(Zec) said that Over 4,7 million people inspected the provisional voters’ roll as the programme ended.

In a statement on Saturday, Zec said of the 5,4 million registered voters, more than 4,7 million people used different platforms to inspect the voters’ roll.

“Six hundred and ninety-four thousand and thirty (694 030) physically inspected the voters’ roll as at May 24, 2018. 819 935 used the USSD code *265# and 3 256440 received bulk SMS. 4 770405 people have so far checked their registration status,” said Zec in a statement.[12]

Dismissing Jonathan Moyo’s allegations

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said that it carried out a second round of the de-duplication exercise of the voters’ roll to deal with people who registered during inspection of the BVR.

ZEC said this in a statement while responding to questions following allegations made by Professor Jonathan Moyo on his Twitter handle, accusing the electoral body of manipulating the voters’ roll to ensure Zanu-PF’s victory in the elections.

High Court orders to issue voters’ roll

The High Court ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the voters’ roll used during the inspection in a ruling complemented with opposition parties' clarion calls for the release of the voter's roll.[13]



Cleaning the Voter's roll

In May of 2018 ZEC started correcting ata entry errors made by the registration officers during the registration period.[14]

National Assembly Nomination Court results

In June of 2018, the ZEC nomination court released the names of the aspiring national assembly contestants. Click on the link below to view the list. Full Schedule of National Assembly Nominations

Data base leak controvesy

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe distanced itself from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s claims that it and other MNO’s may have sold their databases to political parties, in particular, Zanu-PF. This came after Zec commissioners where asked to explain how Zanu-PF was able to get the data to allow it to send targetted bulk messages to people asking them to vote for the party’s candidates in the July 30, 2018, harmonised elections. The commissioners who were at the media brief tried to distance themselves and offered a number of explanations, although all of the explanations were ultimately unsatisfactory because they did not explain how Zanu-PF knew people’s constituencies.

Zec commissioner Netsai Mushonga said that the political party had done the research on its own and reminded people that they leave their mobile numbers in a number of places including supermarkets. Commissioner Qhubani Moyo, on the other hand, said that mobile network operators have facilities where they sell their databases to third parties for bulk messaging.


Responding to questions on whether it had sold the database on social media, Econet said,


Econet holds customer and client data in the strictest of confidence, in line with the requirements of the law. It does not give or sell any customer data to third parties. The company only shares relevant customer information with regulatory authorities, such POTRAZ, in line with subscriber registration rules and its licensing requirement

Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba promised to investigate whether the data was leaked from Zec to and to take the necessary action if so after a reporter pointed out that the only organisation which had all the data in question was Zec. The voters’ roll which was made available to the public does not contain phone numbers.[11]

Responds to aggrieved parties

Addressing her weekly media briefing, ZEC chairwoman Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the electoral body went beyond its constitutional mandate by inviting all political parties to observe the printing of the ballot paper. Printing of the ballot paper is the constitutional prerogative of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and any political party which feels aggrieved by the law and wants to appeal to the African Union (AU) and SADC is free to do so. Chigumba said that in other jurisdictions, stakeholders were allowed to “touch the ballot or feel it” because they had a legislative framework for that. On the transportation of the ballot papers, Justice Chigumba said it would not be done by the military, but the printers. “The strict letter of the law is that we have the exclusive constitutional mandate to procure ballot paper, to design it, to print it and to distribute it.

“The reason why we keep having these disputes around these areas is that the law does not provide that members of the public or stakeholders be involved in this process. Our law says only ZEC can do that. We respect the democratic right of each and every Zimbabwean to approach any fora that they feel will give them the relief that they seek,” she said.[15]

Chigumba speaks of ZEC's stance on aggrieved parties




Some Articles About Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

Chigumba: “Foreign Observers Cannot Place Us Under Their Direction Or Control” Sat Jul 7 2018

Zec requires 4 million for 2018 harmonized elections Tue Jul 18 2017

ERC urges ZEC to put measures to prevent abuse of assisted voting Wed May 10 2017

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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"
  10. Zimbabwe: Confusion Reigns Over Voters Roll Release As Parties Deny ZEC Claims, allAfrica.com, retrieved: 27 Jun 2018
  11. 11.0 11.1 ZEC Says No To Voters' Roll Audit By External Chartered Accountants ⋆ Pindula News, Pindula News, published: 03 Apr 2018, retrieved: 27 Jun 2018 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "pindula" defined multiple times with different content
  12. 5 million inspect provisional voters’ roll, The Herald, retrieved: 27 Jun 2018
  13. High Court orders ZEC to issue voters’ roll within five working days of demand - NewZimbabwe.com, NewZimbabwe.com, published: 15 Jun 2018, retrieved: 27 Jun 2018
  14. Zec starts cleaning voters' roll, DailyNews Live, retrieved: 27 Jun 2018
  15. Appeal to AU, Chigumba tells aggrieved parties, The Herald, retrieved: 10 Jul 2018