Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairperson Justice Rita Makarau could have resigned due to mounting political pressure over her multiple roles, The Sunday Mail has gathered.
Justice Makarau resigned last Thursday without stating reasons after leading Zec since 2013.
On top of heading the Commission, she was a Supreme Court judge and Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission.
She resigns less than a year before Zimbabwe holds harmonised elections and her deputy, Mr Emmanuel Magade, takes over in acting capacity.
Justice Makarau could not be reached for comment on her mobile phone.
Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza told The Sunday Mail, “She gave no reasons for her resignation. My assumption is that it was because of the pressure that was coming from Parliament where there was a lot of debate around her roles at the Judicial Service Commission, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Supreme Court.
“The ministry and herself were regularly called upon to justify her roles in these institutions and she may have decided that it was in the best interest that she resigns.
“The minister has already notified the President of the resignation and, of course, the vacancy. What happens now, in terms of the Constitution, is that the President will appoint a new Chairperson after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. In the meantime, the Deputy Chair of the Commission is the acting head.”
Chairperson of Zec’s media committee, Commissioner Joyce Kazembe, said: “She communicated her resignation to the Commission via email, stating that she was stepping down. She did not give any reasons why she was stepping aside.
“I cannot speculate on why she decided to leave because that would be misleading. But as a Commission, we were really hurt and devastated by the news because we were doing very good work as a team and with the elections just around the corner, it just makes it very difficult to accept.”
Another Commissioner, Dr Qhubani Moyo, added: “She communicated her decision on Thursday but did not give any reasons why she was stepping down.
‘‘However, I cannot speculate on why she decided to leave. Try to get hold of her and she will give you her reasons.”
Commissioners are appointed for a maximum of two six-year terms. None maybe appointed after having been a member for one or more periods, whether continuous or not, amounting to 12 years.
The Constitution says the Zec Chair should be a judge or former judge, or a person qualified for appointment as a judge.
He/she is appointed in terms of Section 238(1)(a) of the Constitution, which reads:
“There is a Commission to be known as Zimbabwe Electoral Commission consisting of (a) a chairperson appointed by the President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.”