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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission boardroom fights escalate

by Staff reporter
03 Mar 2023 at 06:31hrs | Views
THE fallout from the delimitation report by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) commissioners worsened after chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba barred other commissioners from speaking on behalf of the body.

Commissioners Jasper Mangwana and his deputy Catherine Mpofu were yesterday relieved of their duties as spokespersons of the elections management body with Chigumba giving herself, her deputy Rodney Simukai Kiwa and Zec's chief elections officer Uitloile Silaigwana the sole authority to speak on behalf of the entity.

Mangwana and Mpofu are among the seven commissioners who dissociated themselves from the draft delimitation report which Chigumba submitted to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in December last year, whose final has since been gazetted.

"In terms of the Electoral Act and by the operations of law and virtue of condition of service, oath of office and Zec public relations and communications policy of 2020, the following three officials statutorily designated to be spokespersons of Zec: chairperson Justice P M Chigumba, deputy chairperson Ambassador R Kiwa, chief elections officer Mr U Silaigwana," Justice Chigumba said in a Press statement.

"In light of the above, members of the public and the electorate are hereby advised that with effect from February 20, 2023, the above-mentioned three people are the exclusive spokespersons of Zec. As Zec chairperson, I undertake to respond to any query within 72 hours of its receipt."

Mangwana tweeted: "Vanemibvunzo vekubata avo (Those with questions, contact the people below)," and attached to his tweet a picture of Chigumba's Press statement.

The other five commissioners who rebelled against Chigumba are Abigail Millicent Mohadi-Ambrose, Jane Mbetu Nzvenga, Kudzai Shava, Rosewita Murutare and Shepherd Manhivi.

The seven wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Parliament rejecting the draft delimitation report submitted to the President in December.

Mangwana was appointed Zec spokesperson in March last year, taking over from Joyce Kazembe, while Mpofu was appointed his deputy soon after her appointment as Zec commissioner in September the same year.

Electoral stakeholders say the fallout among Zec commissioners could jeopardize the upcoming polls as running the elections requires Zec staff to work in harmony.

Electoral watchdogs have demanded that government launch an inquiry into the fallout among Zec commissioners, which they say has crippled the electoral body six months before the country holds general elections.

"The conduct of the electoral commission is of grave concern, particularly taking into account that Zimbabwe is in an election year,"  Election Resource  Centre programmes officer Takunda Tsunga said.

"The current actions put a further dent in the credibility crisis faced by the commission."

Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust director Ignatius Sadziwa said:  "The discordant component of the electoral management body leaves a lot to be desired. The integrity and capacity of Zec is now questionable especially after the delimitation debacle. As a result, a free and fair election is impossible under such conditions and this calls for serious intervention by all election stakeholders.

"While we appreciate that the task is a daunting one owing to a heavily polarized political terrain, Justice Priscilla Chigumba and team must simply do the honourable and resign to pave way for a new team that is not compromised."

Source - Newsday Zimbabwe