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Zec mustn’t apply the law selectively

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) announced on Sunday that it had reported MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to the police for violating the law by convening a press conference well outside the period permissible for political campaigns.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba addresses media at 2018 Harmonised Elections National Command Centre,Harare International Conference Centre yesterday.-(Picture by Shelton Muchena)

Zec commissioner Qubani Moyo was quoted while in Bulawayo on Sunday confirming that a report had indeed been filed with the police against Chamisa. He said the alleged offence was punishable by either payment of a fine or disqualification from the poll.

In terms of the code of conduct signed by all political parties that took part in the elections yesterday, campaign activities such as the convening or holding of public gatherings; publishing advertisements or statements promoting or opposing a particular party or candidate; campaigning or displaying campaign material within 300 metres of a polling station or counting centre, were supposed to end on Sunday.

For easy of enforcement, the code of conduct was incorporated into the Electoral Act.

No one could have faulted Zec for applying the law. It only became an issue after the commission ignored the fact that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had also addressed the nation a few hours after Chamisa’s media briefing.

In his address, Mnangagwa railed at the MDC Alliance leader for allegedly forging a deal with former president Robert Mugabe, while beseeching the electorate to vote for him.

Following the indignation that followed this boob, Zec revealed at its media briefing yesterday that two presidential candidates had been reported to police but could not be drawn into revealing their names.

Because Zec had already named Chamisa as a culprit the previous day, it can only be speculated that his main rival could be the other offender.

But by being quick to report Chamisa to the police and not exercising the same urgency with the other presidential aspirant, Zec is reinforcing perceptions of bias in its management of the just-ended poll more so when election observers have noted rampant violation of the same code of conduct by key political actors, among them Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance.

Chamisa is already crying foul, claiming his main rival is favoured. An impression has also been presented in the international media painting Zec as not being a neutral arbiter in this election.

Zec does not need this.

The commission must not be seen to be applying the law selectively if it is “to be a centre of excellence in the management of elections and referendums,” as highlighted in its vision statement.  DailyNews