The composition and the reporting structure of the country’s electoral management body (EMB) – the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is nothing but a recipe for a flawed election, a researcher said Thursday.
ZEC commissioners are appointed by the President while the commission reports to the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, who also reports to the President.
The independence of ZEC has always been questioned every time Zimbabwe goes for an election and Saturday’s by-elections have not been an exception.
Addressing members of the civic society at a Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) community dialogue on elections in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) academic, Tobias Guzura said there is no way ZEC can ever be independent.
“The appointment process of our electoral management body and the reporting structure of our electoral management body is a recipe for a flawed election at any given point in time,” said Guzura.
“The EMB is a presidential appointment and they serve at the discretion of the sitting president. You can only support where your bread is buttered. I don’t think there is anyone here who is willing to go against their boss at work. So that’s the scenario at our EMB. So as long as the incumbent has control over the EMB, chances of a free and fair election are very lean.”
He explained further: “The electoral management body reports to a minister who reports to the president and both the minister and the president are candidates in an election they are supervising.”
Guzura said even if ZEC wanted to be independent that is just impossible.
“We also have the staffing of the EMB being a very problematic situation,” he said.
“A large chunk of our EMB staff are deployed personnel, deployed from the security sector.”
He cited the example of the late Douglas Nyikayaramba who presided over the 2002 presidential elections ostensibly having retired to later return to the army.