Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) should build the confidence of all stakeholders and stop being dismissive, militant and intransigent when confronted with evidence of electoral malpractices, analysts have said.
This comes after Zec last Friday trashed social media reports alleging irregularities in postal voting currently underway ahead of the July 30 presidential, parliamentary and municipal polls.
Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba told a meeting of accredited observers and journalists in the capital that postal voting was beyond reproach and done in accordance with the law.
The opposition MDC Alliance on Thursday raised alarm that postal voting by police officers at Ross Camp in Bulawayo was done under the supervision of police commanders, in the absence of election agents and Zec officials in a bid to rig the upcoming vote for the ruling Zanu PF.
Chigumba said according to the law, there was no role for candidates, political party representatives or observers in postal voting.
This came soon after Zec was smarting from scandal over leaked data that enabled the ruling party to send personalised, unsolicited campaign messages to potential voters’ mobile phones.
The opposition said the data leak “proves beyond reasonable doubt collusion between (the election commission), Zanu PF and mobile networks” given that it was denied the voter register by the commission.
Zec staunchly denied sharing voters’ data with the ruling party.
Media analyst Rashweat Mukundu said Zec must improve its communication and accountability, which he said has been found hugely wanting so far.
“The MDC demands for more transparency on ballot paper printing, the voters’ roll are within their rights and the electoral management body has a responsibility to meet and explain itself to key electoral stakeholders as parties and voters.
“Zec’s responses have been rather bellicose and condescending. No matter how provoked, Zec has no room to go political in its responses as they are doing now,” Mukundu said.
Political commentator Rejoice Ngwenya believes the onus to prove poll legitimacy is on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zec.
“The arrogance and self-centred shameless intransigence of Zec is brewing one stew — post electoral illegitimacy and contestation, if not conflict.
“If MDC Alliance is contesting the provenance of ballot papers, in the name of transparency, Zec must prove that the paper is non-corruptible. Chigumba’s reputation is in tatters. She dug her grave and she must be prepared to lay it in.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo said events of the past few days have shown that Zec has a case to answer and probably a burden to prove to the stakeholders that it’s not duplicitously conflating it’s activities to those of the ruling party, thereby aiding the electoral fraud.
“You have Zanu PF accessing the voters’ roll and using it for campaigning while denying the opposition the same right. Hence the MDC is within its right to use any means possible to show the world the calibre of electoral management body that is in Zimbabwe.
“Zec has a lot of administrative reforms to address within its purview which it can do so through regulations and being transparent on the management of critical materials such as ballot papers, ink and storage of the chain of elections residual materials.
“These are the issues that if the opposition removes its eyes from the ball, they are down and buried,” said Moyo.
Political analyst Vivid Gwede believes the credibility of the 2018 harmonised elections has been put under a serious test by the current stand-off between the MDC Alliance and Zec.
“This was rather foreseeable the moment Zec began to behave in a suspicious way. If Zec does not take this grievance about its transparency seriously, that would be an ill-advised position.
“Zec has the capacity to address the concerns which are now clearly shared by the people,” said Gwede.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said this issue is polygonal.
“Zec is wrong in facilitating a contested pre-poll period marred with opaqueness in ballot paper printing and lack of openness to all contesting parties about the processes.
“And if it’s true that Zanu PF was given access to the database of voters which they used to send blast messages to voters, then this again betrays Zec as slapdash and inept to run a free and fair election as an independent body,” he said.
He said the poll will not be credible, neither will it be free and fair, but it will go ahead.
Political analyst Mcdonald Lewanika said: “None of this would be happening if Zec was presiding over an open and transparent process trusted by all parties to the electoral process.
“These protests and late mobilisation on key electoral issues by opposition parties is a serious indictment on Zec and its trust levels from key stakeholders.” DailyNews