Following recent meetings between the National Elections Reform Agenda (Nera) and the Zimbabwe Elections Commission (Zec), the electoral body’s boss, Rita Makarau came across as a dishonest broker with very little interest in reforming the body.
Source: Makarau needs to meet Nera halfway – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 17, 2016
Makarau conceded that there were military personnel in Zec and she was unable to remove them, as they had binding contracts, a valid reason on face value, but nevertheless disingenuous in the Zimbabwean context.
Unless Makarau has been living under a rock for the past year, then she should know that tens of thousands of Zimbabweans lost their jobs despite having binding contracts from their companies, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling last year.
If she was sincere at listening to the electoral reform agenda and was willing to do something about their concerns, then the contracts of military personnel at Zec should not be an issue, as these can be cancelled at three months’ notice.
Makarau knows what is broken at Zec and is either unwilling or unable to fix it, making her meetings with Nera nothing but an exercise in futility.
On the Diaspora vote, Makarau conveniently hides behind the issue of lack of funds for registration of prospective voters.
There is no sign that she is willing to consult the Diaspora to see whether they can come up with modalities to fund their own registration process or what other mechanisms they can come up with.
By blaming lack of finances, as the stumbling block, Makarau hopes the issue of the Diaspora vote will be dead in the water and will not be raised again.
This is the same self-serving argument used against continuous voter registration; that the electoral body is unable to carry out the exercise because it does not have the funds for it.
It is time for Makarau to take advantage of the low hanging fruit by demilitarising Zec and the funds saved by terminating contracts for military personnel could be used for funding other programmes that have run aground due to the lack of money.
This will be the first step in showing she is an honest broker and is willing to meet Nera halfway.
Without any meaningful concessions from her, then her meetings with Nera are nothing, but an elaborate talk shop, where both sides will stick to their chosen positions and will be unwilling to budge.
We hope in future meetings there shall be movement regarding continuous voter registration, the Diaspora vote and the presence of military personnel within the body.
Failure to which, tensions will continue to rise, positions will harden and this is not helpful in the run up to elections that will certainly define the country’s future.