Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter
Allegations of election rigging are normally raised by political parties that would have failed to field agents at polling stations to observe the conduct of polls, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has said.
Commissioner Joyce Kazembe said as the electoral management body, they have always wondered the legal basis upon which such political parties make the allegations when they would have abdicated the legal expectation for them to appoint agents at all voting centres.
Comm Kazembe was making a contribution during a virtual interface with Parliament’s portfolio committee on Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.
The interface, which was supported by the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust was meant to appraise legislators on media regulations.
“There are certain polling stations, which had no polling agents from major opposition parties, but they were raising allegations of rigging. We really do not know the basis of these allegations.
“These polling agents must be present 24 hours including during counting of votes so that they append their signatures on the results that would be send to the national command centre here in Harare. So these are allegations, we really do not know where they come from,” said Comm Kazembe.
In 2018, the MDC-Alliance leader, Mr Nelson Chamisa raised allegations of rigging when he lost to Zanu PF leader, President Mnangagwa.
Mr Chamisa launched a constitutional legal challenge against President Mnangagwa’s electoral victory, but failed to prove the allegations as it emerged that he had not fielded polling agents at most voting centres.
The Constitutional Court led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba found the challenge not having any merit before dismissing it.
Turning to ZEC’s role in monitoring the media, Comm Kazembe said there was need for legal reforms to capture technological changes that have evolved over the years from when the current legal framework was promulgated.
“The media conduct is currently governed by laws promulgated a long time ago, in 2008. The regulations have not been amended or aligned to the 2013 Constitution,” said Comm Kazembe.
She said some of the proposed amendments sought to deal with social media which disseminated hate speech during election period targeting mostly women.
“We need to monitor social media. But sometimes social media can be slippery.
“We have submitted these documents to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs so that they can take to Parliament. We are anxious to know what became of these proposals,” she said.
The committee chaired by Matabeleland South Proportional Representative, Ms Sipho Mokone (MDC-T) resolved to engage the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.