BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
INDEPENDENT elections watchdog, Election Resource Centre (ERC) yesterday blasted the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) over its use of Press statements to arbitrarily initiate or suspend electoral activities without following due process.
In a statement, ERC said Zec illegally suspended by-elections through a Press statement on January 7, 2021, thus perpetuating an illegal way of administering electoral processes.
This was after the electoral body on Tuesday issued a statement notifying the public of resumption of electoral registration activities following the relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
“The ERC maintains that while Zec has a constitutional mandate to administer elections, the law does not give the body discretion to arbitrarily start and stop processes without a court order. The resumption of electoral activities must be preceded by the implementation of administrative reforms by Zec.
“The commission also states that the conduct of by-elections remains suspended and this position will be reviewed in due course and stakeholders will be advised. The statement issued by Zec does not outline what has been done to institute reforms and any plans in place to implement administrative reforms that are key in restoring public trust and confidence of stakeholders in the management of elections” ERC said.
“The statement suggests a negative attitude towards inclusion of stakeholders, thereby, making Zec a law unto itself and unaccountable to citizens and stakeholders. No explanation is given why a selective approach has been taken in lifting the suspension of electoral activities.
“In addition, should the order be granted to suspend the by-elections, the ensuing suspension period should be effectively used to institute long-awaited reforms. By-elections without reforms pose a threat to credibility and acceptability of electoral outcomes.”
ERC recommended that Zec should submit itself to the Constitution and best practices in administering electoral processes in line with regional and international best practices.
Contacted for comment, Zec chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said: “Let me see the ERC statement first, check the issues raised and then I will respond to it tomorrow (today),” he said.