The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) remains unfazed by incidents of abuse and insults directed at female commissioners, particularly its chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba, by some elements and it will continue discharging its constitutional duty of running elections, an official has said.
ZEC deputy chairperson Mr Emmanuel Magade said there was need to develop a new culture of working together among stakeholders characterised by mutual respect as preparations for 2023 harmonised elections begin.
Mr Magade said this on Wednesday while addressing delegates attending a national multi-stakeholder post-election review conference for the July 30 2018 harmonised elections being organised by the election management body.
“It is my profound hope that going forward we can develop a new culture or modus operandi on how we can interact and relate with each other,” he said.
“Here I have got in mind the sad incidents of abuse and insults directed at female commissioners, particularly the chairperson during the run up to the elections.
“Such treatment was totally unwarranted, uncalled for and in fact despicable and unAfrican.
“Some of us male members of the commission we really hung our heads in shame. Fortunately for all of us, our female commissioners remained unfazed.
“They have continued to discharge their constitutional mandate with commitment, distinction and gusto.”
Justice Chigumba assured stakeholders that they would take their contributions seriously.
“We are all accountable for the credibility of the electoral process,” she said.
“So, the lessons that will emerge from this process will assist not only ZEC as the election administrators, but all election stakeholders in contributing towards the attainment of credible and acceptable electoral processes.”
Chigumba said she was unfazed by the abuse and hate speech that she and other female commissioners suffered, mainly at the hands of opposition party members during the 2018 elections.
“These attacks on our personas in particular were basically different opinions by our voters on whether or not we had executed our duties well.
“We decided to ignore and proceeded with our mandate and I believe we discharged our mandate to the best of our abilities,” said Chigumba.
She said the female commissioners had to undergo a counselling session as they assured themselves that they were on the right path.
“We had counselling amongst ourselves and told each other that we took oath of office and we agreed in terms of the Constitution that we run elections,” she added.
Chigumba said some of the voters and leaders who picketed their offices were ignorant of the demands they were calling for .
“It is my considered view that a lot of what transpired during the elections arose from a position of ignorance from our main stakeholders who are the voters,” she said.
Officially opening the conference on Wednesday, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi implored ZEC to expeditiously submit to Parliament recommendations that were of a legal nature.
“There is need to forward recommendations that are of a legal nature early to Parliament in order for the necessary amendments to be effected before 2023 general elections,” he said.
“My ministry appeals to ZEC to bring forward issues arising from the conference that require amendments of the law early.”
Minister Ziyambi’s speech was read on his behalf by permanent secretary of the Ministry, Mrs Virginia Mabhiza.
He said Government would implement recommendations by the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry into the August 1, 2018 disturbances that rocked Harare before the 2023 general polls.
“As some of you are probably aware, the Government of Zimbabwe has set up a special inter-ministerial taskforce chaired by my Ministry to address issues arising from the findings of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry,” he said.
“The taskforce is also expected to address issues arising from reports made by observer missions on last year’s harmonised elections.
“It is my fervent hope that issues arising from this conference together with recommendations by the Motlanthe Commission should be addressed before the 2023 general elections.”