Elections are ZEC, not ZRP’s mandate: Chigumba

Elections are ZEC, not ZRP’s mandate: Chigumba

Source: Elections are ZEC, not ZRP’s mandate: Chigumba | The Herald May 4, 2018

Elections are ZEC, not ZRP’s mandate: Chigumba
Justice Chigumba

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will work together to create an environment where candidates and the electorate are free to express their democratic will before, during and after the 2018 harmonised elections.

Addressing ZRP’s Train the Trainer Workshop at Morris Depot in Harare yesterday, ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the conduct of the two statutory bodies during the electoral process was crucial in “shaping perceptions of fairness and ultimately the credibility of the elections”.

She said in previous elections, the relationship between ZEC and ZRP was acrimonious as the latter seemingly overstepped its mandate by appearing to be running the election.

“It is worth mentioning at this platform that as we speak, Parliament is debating amendments to the electoral laws which may influence how ZEC manages elections, and most importantly, how ZEC and the ZRP should behave during the polls,” said Justice Chigumba.

“The attitude and behaviour of statutory bodies such as ZEC and the ZRP is significant in shaping perceptions of fairness and ultimately the credibility of elections. There are reports from previous elections where the relationship between electoral and police officers could be best described as acrimonious as the former felt as if the latter was there to oversee the running of the election,” she said.

In the previous elections, she added, police would demand statistics from electoral officers, which created the impression that the two bodies were colluding to influence the electoral field.

“We cannot afford to have this happen during the 2018 harmonised elections because it sends the wrong signal to the observers as it undermines the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC),” she said.

However, Justice Chigumba said the platform created by the current workshops that are being held by the police is an ideal starting point to creating an environment for delivering a credible election.

“The role of the ZEC cannot be fully realised in the absence of the role of the police in maintaining law and order. We need to work together in order to create an environment where the people of Zimbabwe are free to contribute to the democracy of their country.

“Together we can make this country shine and I believe that this training workshop is the beginning of that process,” she added.

According to Justice Chigumba, the political transition that took place in November last year seemingly engendered an appetite to participate in “open political spaces”, as evidenced by the emergence of 120 political parties.

She also said the new political administration has also attracted the attention of the international community.
The need for credible elections, she said, cannot be overemphasised.