By Fungi Kwaramba
MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa, who has lined up demonstrations and a regional charm offensive to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to effect electoral reforms, has not shut the door on dialogue with the electoral body.
Chamisa and the MDC Alliance, a coalition of seven political parties he leads, are not satisfied with the process leading to this year’s harmonised elections to be held on July 30.
Although Zec has been at pains to be transparent — taking observers to the government-owned Fidelity Printers where the ballot papers are being printed — opposition parties remain sceptical and allege that the elections management body was working with Zanu PF to rig the elections.
In a letter to the commission’s chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba, Chamisa’s chief elections agent, Jameson Timba, said a meeting between his principal and the commissioners was necessary to deal with sticking points that could impinge on the holding of a free and fair election.
“Further to my meeting with you of 2 July 2018 in which I raised several issues pertaining to the elections for and on behalf of president Nelson Chamisa, a presidential candidate for the scheduled July 30, 2018, elections, I would like to formally request for a meeting between him and the commission,” said Timba.
He said, if granted, the meeting should focus on the “transparent design and layout of the ballot paper,” among other issues.
He said Zec should also, during the proposed meeting, explain the “arrangements for the transparent observation and inspection of the printing of the ballot papers and inspection of the indelible ink as previously agreed to,” and “arrangements and mechanisms for stakeholder/candidate participation in the transparent storage and security of the printed ballot papers”.
Eyebrows were raised on Tuesday when the army offered to transport ballot boxes if requested to do so by Zec — with cynics saying the country’s military was so much embedded in contemporary politics to be trusted with transporting ballot papers.
Although Zec says everything was being done in a transparent manner and in observance of the Constitution, Chamisa and other opposition figures say the commission was cutting corners and should disclose the “arrangements and mechanisms for stakeholder/candidate participation in the secure and transparent distribution of the ballot papers to polling stations”.
In the letter, Timba said although Zec committed itself to providing the voters’ roll, it has so far failed to live up to its word.
“In addition, our supreme law is also clear in section 155 that a candidate must have reasonable access to all material and information necessary for them to participate effectively. Further, our supreme law in terms of s 62(1) gives rights to a candidate or citizen to access any information held by the state.
“Currently, the candidate I represent is hamstrung to participate in the elections effectively unless the above issues are resolved hence infringing on his fundamental rights,” said Timba.
But in a statement issued recently, Chigumba claimed that some parties were demanding more than what the Electoral Law provides for.
She, however, conceded that political parties that went to observe the printing of the ballot papers did not get close to the action due to security reasons.
“Whilst there is no legal obligation which compels the commission to invite stakeholders to the printing process, the commission saw it fit to allow stakeholders to witness the process in order to dispel unfounded and misleading myths.
“However, the commission noted with concern demands by some political parties to get very close to the printing machines which are located in an area with high security documents belonging to other clients,” said Chigumba. Daily News