via Govt appoints New Chief Elections Officer – The Zimbabwean 9 June 2015
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] has announced the appointment of Mrs Constance Chigwamba as Chief Elections Officer with effect from 1st June 2015. She fills the vacancy caused by the death of the former Chief Elections Officer, Mr Lovemore Sekeremayi in June 2014.
Responsibilities of Chief Elections Officer
The appointment is in terms of section 9 of the Electoral Act, which provides that the Chief Elections Officer is the chief executive officer of ZEC. The Chief Elections Officer, under the general control of ZEC:
• manages ZEC’s affairs and property
• supervises and controls the activities of the other employees of ZEC
• is ZEC’s accounting officer in terms of the Public Finance Management Act
• performs any ZEC functions entrusted or assigned by ZEC to him or her
The Chief Elections Officer has the right to attend ZEC meetings and to take part in discussions as if he or she were a Commissioner, but does not have a vote in decisions.
The Electoral Act also makes the Chief Elections Officer responsible for specific functions in connection with the conduct of elections, such as gazetting the names of nominated candidates and overseeing the administration of the postal voting system in terms of Part XIV of the Act.
Previously, it was the Chief Elections Officer who had the task of announcing the result of a Presidential election. That was changed in 2012 when an amending Act transferred this responsibility to the ZEC chairperson or, in his or her absence, another Commissioner. Other provisions in the Electoral Act contribute to a lack of clarity about the relative responsibilities of the CEO and Commission, and these will need to be cleared up. This is not done in the General Laws Amendment Bill but appropriate amendments could be added during the Bill’s passage through Parliament.
About Mrs Chigwamba
Mrs Chigwamba started her career as a secondary school mathematics teacher before becoming a teacher training college lecturer. She later moved into the field of human resources and public administration and became the Secretary to the Public Service Commission. After several years in that post she was appointed a Permanent Secretary by President Mugabe, in 2009 of the Ministry of Public Service, and in 2012 of the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.
When the Ministry was split in September 2013 and she became Permanent Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education. In September 2014 she was appointed a Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet. Mrs Chigwamba was a board member of the Premier Service Medical Aid Society until February 2014, when she and fellow board members resigned in the aftermath of the publicity over the inordinately high salaries and allowances being paid to the chief executive and senior staff of the society.
As ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau has pointed out in an interview about this appointment, Mrs Chigwamba is not a stranger to the conduct of elections, having been a member of the Elections Directorate when Secretary of the Public Service Commission. [The Elections Directorate was a high-level Government committee charged with mobilising Government resources and personnel to assist those directly responsible for the conduct of elections; it was chaired by the chairperson of the Public Service Commission.]