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Zec throws police under the bus

by Staff reporter
13 Nov 2022 at 18:14hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has blamed the police for failing to eradicate electoral malpractices saying the law enforcement agency has a duty to act against the vice.

Election stakeholders have raised concern that electoral malpractices which include Zec's failure to release a credible voter's roll, vote buying, lack of fair access to the State media among others pointed to another disputed poll.

Asked on its progress in addressing the concerns, Zec chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana said cases of electoral malpractices were criminal offences which should be dealt with by the police.

"During elections, the commission also establishes multi-party liaison committees in terms of sections 160B, C and D of the Electoral Act to resolve electoral disputes and allied malpractices in an amicable way," Silaigwana told NewsDay Weekender.

"Aggrieved parties who observe violations of the code and feel that they are beyond the jurisdiction of multi-party liaison committees are advised to report such issues to the police, since such violations are deemed as criminal offences."

Silaigwana said the electoral body would also not intervene on allegations of manipulation of voters through the assisted voters system.

"In this regard, it is not possible for the commission to intervene when allegations of manipulation of assisted voting arise. Again, the onus is upon the aggrieved parties to report to the police whenever they observe a manipulation of this legal provision," he said.

MDC-T Gweru Urban MP Brian Dube dismissed Silaigwana's claims, saying the Constitution and the Electoral Act mandate Zec to ensure a credible poll.

"Zec should be able to administer its duties to ensure that all the complaints raised are addressed. When any political actor complains against any political malpractice, Zec should be able to investigate," Dube said.

"It has the power to suspend any political actor who would have violated election rules. The police can assist in the investigation of the cases but under the instruction of Zec."

Citizens Coalition for Change secretary for elections Ian Makone weighed in saying the opposition party did not expect the police to address their grievances.

"Nowhere in the Electoral Act are police mandated with the duty to manage free and fair elections.  If the police help Zec to manage elections they can do so but Zec has the primary duty to ensure that elections are held free from any form of malpractices," Makone said.

Election Resource Centre legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga said: "Zec has a duty to ensure that they address and follow up on such concerns and complaints proactively. They are the body mandated to ensure free and fair elections. They cannot simply pass on their constitutional obligations to the next State institution."

Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi urged political parties to co-operate with the law enforcement agency when investigating acts of electoral malpractices.

"As long as the alleged criminal act is reported, the police will investigate. However some of the allegations are exaggerated. We urge political parties to be co-operative when police are conducting investigations," Nyathi said.

Source - Newsday Zimbabwe