‘We won’t stop hiring soldiers’ – ZEC says amid militarization concerns
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has defiantly declared that it will continue to recruit ex-soldiers to protect its institutions during elections, raising more questions about its “impartiality and credibility.”
Speaking on ZTN on Thursday, ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the electoral body would not stop hiring members of the security services.
“There is no evidence that has been brought before me to show that anybody with the so-called militarised background acted contrary to the mandate or interest of the registered voters,” she said.
“Those retired members of the security services, as long as the retired members of the security services are in Zimbabwe, as long as they respond to the adverts that we flight for vacant posts, and if they qualify for the posts, they will continue serving in ZEC.
“It is unconstitutional to discriminate against them on the basis that they once served in the military.
“Show me a country that has a policy that it does not employ people because they were once soldiers. These soldiers are people who die for the country, and Zec does not have a policy that discriminates against them.”
During the last plebiscite in 2018, Chigumba revealed that at least 15% of the ZEC staff, then over 380, were ex-service personnel.
This however, raised public concerns that the electoral management body was heavily militarised, thus undermining its credibility.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was heavily criticised by the international community after the last election following the killing of six civilians by members of the security services during post election demonstrations.
Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) secretary-general Chalton Hwende urged ZEC to hire ‘independent professionals’.
“ZEC must not be militarised. It must ensure that it hires professionals that can independently perform their duties to guarantee undisputed elections. What we have been demanding has been pointed out in various reports that have been released by electoral bodies,” he said.
Zimbabwe is set to hold its harmonised general election in 2023. Nehanda Radio