BY SHARON BUWERIMWE
CIVIC groups have continued to raise concerns over heavy military presence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s secretariat, saying this compromised the electoral management body’s integrity.
In past elections, the army has been accused of working in cahoots with the ruling Zanu PF party as well as participating in the closure of constitutionalism and democratic space in the country.
The issue resurfaced yesterday during a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition conference to gauge the country’s state of preparedness ahead of by-elections slated for Saturday.
Election Resource Centre legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga said insiders had revealed that there were over 30 ex-military personnel at Zec.
“There has been a systematic manipulation of electoral processes over the last decade. Malpractices in Zec is a systematic issue and we have continuously engaged the electoral commission to avail to us the list of members who are currently employed by the electoral commission for us to be able to investigate each and every individual. This is concerning,” Tsunga said.
Opposition United Democratic Alliance president Daniel Shumba concurred saying: “The military which is working with Zec are also the same people who are reporting to their bosses. There are desks in the military intelligence and the Central Intelligence Organisation that work and give instructions to Zec. They are still in the military and they are employed by Zec.”
Institute for Young Women’s Development director Glanis Changachirere said Zec should be demilitarised so that it operates independently.
“If government does not have the political will to demilitarise governance, including giving the independent institutions such as Zec space to operate freely, then we will continue to have such talkshows. Zimbabwe should experience credible free and fair elections that also guarantee gender equality as provided for in the Constitution.”
But Zec spokesperson Joyce Kazembe dismissed the claims saying: “The military people who are in the organisation came way back before there was an established supervising commission. We only have 11 persons with military background out of 172. So how will they influence the organisation? Why should we discriminate against people with military backgrounds? I don’t know where they are getting the 30 from,” said Kazembe.
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza recently said a free and fair election would be impossible under military rule.
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