HARARE – Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba and her entire team have a huge task at their hands of running a credible poll on July 30.
Zec risks failing this mandate because of the way they have batted away demands from the opposition parties, particularly the MDC Alliance.
On Wednesday, a massive demonstration was held in the capital to protest over the uneven playing field in the forthcoming harmonised elections.
The opposition wants Zec to avail an analysable electronic copy of the biometric voters’ roll for audit, access to observing the printing of the ballot papers, testing their chemical composition as well as monitoring their safekeeping and transportation to voting centres.
Last month, Zec invited all the political parties to observe the printing of the presidential and National Assembly ballot papers at the State-owned Fidelity Printers, but the opposition was not satisfied with the vantage point they were given to observe the process with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe subsidiary insisting they were following their strict security protocol.
In Zec’s defence, Chigumba has always maintained that she is following the Electoral and the State Procurement Acts in conducting her business.
Of course Zec might win the legal argument, but what Chigumba needs to realise is that she is leading an organisation that has long lost any pinch of credibility among the voting Zimbabwean public.
She inherited a Zec stinking of rigging claims and favouritism towards the ruling Zanu PF due to the way it managed previous elections.
In order to win back the confidence and trust of Zimbabweans, Zec must now go the extra mile in opening up their internal processes for scrutiny by political parties, local and international observers and the general public.
As things stand, most Zimbabweans are already convinced Zec is going to rig the impending elections in favour of incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF due to the way Chigumba is using the law to shoot down the demands of the MDC Alliance and the rest of the opposition.
What Chigumba must realise is that acceding to some of these demands will only shed Zec’s badly damaged image and give credibility to the result of the poll.
Although some of the demands might not be catered for in the Electoral and State Procurement Acts, Zec must show a human face and make some concessions in order to win back the trust and confidence of Zimbabweans.