ZEC boss Chigumba hits back at foreign election observer missions: You can’t place us under your direction or control

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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairwoman Justice Priscilla Chigumba says ZEC cooperates with foreign election observers and missions, but does not take instructions from anybody because it is an independent constitutional entity.

This comes after European Union Observer Mission chief election observer, Elmar Brok, yesterday said Zimbabwe should “undo” past wrongs by a free, fair and credible election this year and urged the Zimbabwe Clectoral Commission (Zec) to provide analysable biometric voter registration data to instil confidence in the July 30 polls.

Brok cautioned Zec against bringing the credibility of the elections into question by engaging in anything that would raise a “red flag”.

The EUOM position followed opposition MDC-T and MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa’s call for Zec to involve the opposition parties in the printing, storage, transportation and distribution of ballot papers to enhance and improve the transparency and credibility of the elections.

“These elections are a critical test of Zimbabwe’s reform process. Given the context of past elections, great efforts need to be made to ensure public and political confidence in the 2018 polls. Necessary efforts include transparency and inclusivity, confidence in the integrity of the voters’ roll, emphasis on secrecy of the vote and the peaceful conduct of the polls,” Brok said.

But Chigumba hit back and said being a stickler for the law should not be interpreted as arrogance as she strives to guide the country towards historic harmonised elections on July 30.

In an interview with The Herald, Justice Chigumba said her view that elections could not be stopped once a proclamation had been made by the President was guided by a ruling of the Constitutional Court, not a personal opinion.

Justice Chigumba recently reacted firmly to suggestions to either stop elections or delay them pending demands made on ZEC by some opposition parties.

She said only a natural disaster such as an earthquake could stop the election after the President had proclaimed a date.

“As I have already said, not even the Government of Zimbabwe can direct or control ZEC to do anything or not do anything,” said Justice Chigumba.

“So, foreign observers or envoys cannot place us under their direction or control but we do have engagements with them, where they try and understand our electoral laws,” she said.

“We try and disseminate information saying in this jurisdiction this is what the law says with regards to such and such. We are not influenced by them although they are one of our vital stakeholders and we do have discussions with them,” she said.

Justice Chigumba also clarified that if individuals or political parties chose not to participate in electoral processes, that was not an offence under Zimbabwean law.

– Herald


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