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It's wrong for ZEC to accept foreign funding

20 Sep 2023 at 21:17hrs | Views
The EU's notification of its suspension of support for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] is an unacceptable use of donor funds to seek to influence and control an independent Chapter 12 constitutional body, and it is the clearest ugly example why such bodies must not accept any foreign funding; but must be wholly and adequately funded by the fiscus.

It is trite that he who pays the piper names the tune.

More about this after the EU press statement which is attached herewith and is reproduced immediately below for ease of reading:

EU Press Release:

Harare, 19 September 2023 – The European Union (EU) has formally communicated its intention to suspend its 5 million USD financial support for the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) to both the Ministry of Finance and Investment Promotion and ZEC. The project supporting ZEC, which is managed by UNDP and scheduled to run until December 2024, is currently under scrutiny due to concerns raised by several international Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) regarding the independence and transparency of ZEC during the 2023 harmonised elections.

The recent preliminary statements from multiple EOMs, including the EU EOM, have raised concerns about ZEC's management of the electoral process, particularly regarding its independence and transparency. The EU contributes together with other donors to a UNDP-managed project aiming at enhancing ZEC's institutional and technical capabilities to fulfil its constitutional mandate. In response to these concerns and in adherence to responsible management of EU development cooperation funds, the EU has initiated a procedure to suspend its contribution to this project.

The EU firmly underscores the critical importance of electoral management bodies serving as independent and transparent institutions in fulfilling their mandates to deliver credible and inclusive electoral processes that enjoy the trust of citizens. The EU remains open to the possibility of resuming its contribution to support efforts aiming at strengthening the electoral processes and bring such processes closer to the regional and international standards that Zimbabwe has signed.

The European Union will continue closely monitoring developments in Zimbabwe and reaffirms its commitment to collaborate with the government, independent commissions, civil society, and other stakeholders in promoting democracy, human rights and rule of law.

Background information -The ZIM-ECO2 project:
The primary goal of the ZIM ECO 2 project is to enhance ZEC's capacity to conduct the electoral process, with the aim of contributing to the improvement of the entire electoral cycle, not limited to elections alone. This project is managed by UNDP and receives support from various donors, including the EU. Following the signing of the Financing Agreement with the Ministry of Finance in November 2022, the EU officially entered into the ZIM-ECO2 project with UNDP in December 2022, providing a total contribution of 4.7 million USD, of which approximately 1 million Euros have been spent.

For any media enquiries, please contact:
Alexandra Maseko, Press and Information Officer, Delegation of the European Union,, +263 242 338158 to 64"

Below are the functions of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commissions in terms of section 239 of the Constitutions of Zimbabwe:

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has the following functions—
(a) to prepare for, conduct and supervise—
(i) elections to the office of President and to Parliament;
(ii) elections to provincial and metropolitan councils and the governing bodies of local authorities;
(iii) elections of members of the National Council of Chiefs established by section 285; and
(iv) referendums;
and to ensure that those elections and referendums are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law;
(b) to supervise elections of the President of the Senate and the Speaker and to ensure that those elections are conducted efficiently and in accordance with the law;
(c) to register voters;
(d) to compile voters' rolls and registers;
(e) to ensure the proper custody and maintenance of voters' rolls and registers;
(f) to delimit constituencies, wards and other electoral boundaries;
(g) to design, print and distribute ballot papers, approve the form of and procure ballot boxes, and establish and operate polling centres;
(h) to conduct and supervise voter education;
(i) to accredit observers of elections and referendums;
(j) to give instructions to persons in the employment of the State or of a local authority for the purpose of ensuring the efficient, free, fair, proper and transparent conduct of any election or referendum; and
(k) to receive and consider complaints from the public and to take such action in regard to the complaints as it considers appropriate.

Regarding ZEC's autonomy in its exercise and discharge of the above constitutional functions, as an independent chapter 12 constitutional body, section 235 of the Constitution provides that:

Independence of Commissions
(1) The independent Commissions—
(a) are independent and are not subject to the direction or control of anyone;
(b) must act in accordance with this Constitution; and
(c) must exercise their functions without fear, favour or prejudice;
although they are accountable to Parliament for the efficient performance of their functions.
(2) The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level, through legislative and other measures, must assist the independent Commissionsand must protect their independence, impartiality, integrity and effectiveness.
(3) No person may interfere with the functioning of the independent Commissions.
The EU's action is tantamount to using the power of the Euro or the Dollar to compromises ZEC's independence. Whether a constitutional or statutory body has not acted in accordance with the Constitution is for competent courts of law to determine; and not for anyone else, let alone a donor agency.
MORAL OF THE STORY: To secure their constitutional independence, and to safeguard Zimbabwe's sovereignty, chapter 12 constitutional bodies must not accept any foreign funding whatsoever from any foreign source. Treasury must ensure that chapter 12 constitutional bodies are wholly and adequately funded by the fiscus!

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