The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been accused of attempting to manipulate a forum of presidential candidates that meets weekly to dismiss Nelson Chamisa’s demands for administrative electoral reforms.
This comes after it emerged that the under pressure Zec has now said through acting chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana it is prepared to discuss with Chamisa a raft of administrative electoral reforms he is demanding but only in the Multi-Party Liaison Committee — a structure for conflict management created by Zec after the close of the Nomination Court.
Chamisa has told Zec the Multi-Party Liaison Committee has already agreed with him and there was no need for another meeting. He also argued that the enforcement of his individual rights cannot be dependent upon the choice by other presidential candidates to either claim or waiver their own rights.
He fears a new meeting of the Multi-Party Liaison Committee could be manipulated to reject his demands because he suspects some of the presidential candidates are not genuine opposition but a creation of the ruling Zanu PF.
This comes as the Daily News learnt yesterday that most of the opposition political parties agree with Chamisa’s demands and actually came up with a common position at a meeting held on July 9 in Kadoma.
Representatives of the MDC Alliance, Joice Mujuru’s People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC), Elton Mangoma’s Coalition of Democrats (Code), Nkosana Moyo’s Alliance for the People’s Agenda (APA), Noah Manyika’s Build Zimbabwe Alliance (BZA) and Thokozani Khupe’s MDC all endorsed Chamisa’s demands at the Kadoma meeting.
According to a document titled Common position of the opposition political parties and candidates, the parties resolved: “We the undersigned political parties and independent candidates contesting the Zimbabwe Presidential Election 2018 have lost the trust that Zec can carry out a free fair and credible election. Zec needs to do everything that ensures they deliver a free fair and credible election.”
However, that document was not signed by presidential candidates Violet Mariyacha of UDM, Blessing Kasiyamhuru of ZIPP, Joseph Makamba Busha of Freedom Congress, Ambrose Mutinhiri of NPF, Lovemore Madhuku of NCA, Johannes Chiguvare of PPP, Bryn Mteki an independent, Peter Harry Wilson of DOP, Tendai Munyanduri T of New Patritic Front, William Tawonezvi Mugadza of Bethel Christian Party, Divine Hove of NAPDR, Hlabangana Kwanele of RPZ, Peter Gava Mapfumo of UNDF, and Melbah Dzapasi of 1980 Freedom Movement Zimbabwe and Daniel Shumba of UDA.
According to confidential resolutions contained in the document, the parties jointly came to the conclusion Zec must immediately release the correct voters’ roll as required by law.
“Zec to print the hard copies that will be used on voting day and allow an audit of this hard copy,” the resolution says.
The parties also resolved that printing of the ballot must be carried out afresh in a transparent manner.
The parties also agreed that the design and printing of the presidential ballot paper must show fairness based on uniformly applied principles founded on common sense.
The parties have protested that the layout of the presidential ballot was designed to benefit Zanu PF candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa. Instead of using the traditional single column for all 23 presidential candidates, which would have resulted in Mnangagwa’s name appearing somewhere in the middle, Zec had opted to use two columns, with the first column with 14 candidates, resulting in Mnangagwa appearing at the top in the second column which contains only nine candidates.
The parties meeting in Kadoma also demanded to mark the ballot papers using pens and pencils and observe the reaction over 12 hours.
“There must be agreement on the mechanisms and modalities for stakeholder participation in the transparent and secure distribution of the ballot paper to polling stations,” the common position document says.
“The ink to be used on polling day must be tested for indelibility. Election residue, in the event of an election, should be kept in separate boxes for President, House of Assembly and Council.”
On indelible ink, the parties said there is need for an assurance that the indelible ink will not be easily washed away.
“Tests need to be conducted and confidence built around the distribution,” the parties said.
The parties noted that in 2013, a good number of polling officers were known Zanu PF officials, close relatives of Zanu PF candidates and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives.
“In the spirit of transparency and increasing trust, the names and stations of the polling officers should be released by 16th of July and allow a time for objections,” the parties agreed.
Chamisa’s chief election agent Jameson Timba told the Daily News yesterday: “There is consensus amongst contending parties that Zec must be transparent on issues concerning the ballot; its storage and distribution. In my view, if any party is opposed to transparency then it must be benefiting from the opaque processes.”
Silaigwana in his letter to Timba advised: “We respectfully advise that the full Zec has agreed that your requests are best dealt with at our Multi-Party Liaison Committees in order to build consensus with the other political parties that are going to the election.
“In the absence of a legal framework to guide us on how best to accommodate your request, a consensus approach is next best alternative.”
Timba has since replied to Silaigwana highlighting that Zec was attempting to reinvent the wheel by convening another Multi-Party Liaison Committee to consider Chamisa’s demands.
“There was consensus amongst the parties in the Multi-Party Liaison Committee on these issues and a specific response given officially by Commissioner (Qhubani) Moyo wherein he stated the following: the issues raised required administrative action; he conceded that the requests for transparency do not offend the law but however the Commissioners present could not give an ultimate decision without first reporting to the full Commission; that he would formally take up these issues with the full Commission and convene a Multi-Party Liaison Committee in the coming week ending July 6,2018 to communicate the feedback from the Commission. This has not happened,” Timba said in his letter, adding “what is now left is the political will to implement these issues.”
He said they were only agreed to meet Zec to “discuss and agree the modalities of implementation of these issues which had already been formally put before the Commission in a statutory meeting of the Multi-Party Liaison Committee and in the meeting between myself and the chairperson of the Commission and the engagement with Commissioner Moyo.”