THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) multiparty liaison committee meeting with political parties participating in the July 30 elections was yesterday marred by chaos and ended prematurely after a member of the opposition demanded that the electoral management body chief Justice Priscilla Chigumba, resign.
This happened as Zec yesterday refuted reports that the voters’ roll provided to stakeholders was fake because it contained each registered voter’s full names, date of birth, national registration number, sex and area of residence as provided for under Section 20(2) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13].
Zec also advised stakeholders that the electoral management body was willing to provide a PDF voters’ roll containing voters’ photographs to any who would want to have them, but they should bring their own external computer hard drives where such a roll would be downloaded on.
Francis Danha, who claimed to be a medical doctor by profession and leader of #1980 Freedom Party Chinhu Chedu (Our Thing), disrupted the meeting which was attended by almost most parties contesting in the 2018 harmonised elections, accusing Chigumba of being biased.
“You have no right to chair this meeting. You want to use us so that we rubber-stamp your decisions. We are not going to allow you to rig these elections on behalf of Zanu PF. We know that you are here to support Zanu PF. Don’t fool us. That woman called Chigumba must go. She is not transparent. She is favouring Zanu PF,” Danha claimed.
The multi-party liaison committee meeting was chaired by Zec commissioner Qhubani Moyo who was forced to call off the indaba after Danha refused to allow other parties to discuss how the general election ought to be managed and how conflicts—if they arise — should be dealt with. “We are a constitutional body and we can’t work in such an environment where other people’s rights are infringed upon. I, therefore, call off this meeting,” Moyo said much to the disdain of other political parties.
Before the disruption by Danha who went on to stand on top of a chair while defying pleas from other political actors to allow the meeting to continue and have Zec respond to his issues, Moyo had outlined the importance of the multi-party liaison committee and how it should operate, saying it was a platform where grievances were raised and a consensus reached.
Ironically, Danha is not a candidate in this year’s elections, alleging that Zec had disqualified him to stand as a presidential candidate, although his party had fielded at least 18 parliamentary candidates countrywide.
As Danha was demonstrating, while on top of a chair, blocking any attempt to have the meeting proceed, some delegates were busy helping themselves to available snacks while others tried to persuade him to calm down and allow the meeting to continue.
MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa’s chief elections agent Jameson Timba said although he agreed with the issues Danha raised, the approach he used was wrong.
“He has infringed on other people’s rights. It is bad,” Timba said.
Zanu PF representative, Fortune Chasi questioned Danha’s actions and said medical doctors should examine his mental health.
“While he has issues that need to be addressed by Zec, his behaviour is appalling. It is sad. I think he needs to visit a medical doctor,” Chasi said.
Zimbabwe is set to hold elections on July 30, but opposition parties have accused Zec of abetting Zanu PF to rig the crucial elections.
Key on the electoral demands was the credibility of the voters’ roll which Danha said was being manipulated by Zanu PF while other parties were being denied access to the same. But Moyo said Zec would next week invite all political parties to observe the printing of ballot papers by local firms – Fidelity Printers and Printflow.
“The presidential and parliamentary ballot papers are going to be printed by Fidelity Printers while the local authorities’ ballot papers are going to be printed by Printflow. Next week, we are going to invite political parties and other stakeholders to observe the ballot paper, so that we deal with all myths that have been alleged. We are going to allow them to test the paper for chromatography and satisfy themselves on the quality of the paper. They will also observe the ballot paper printing process,” Moyo said.
Yesterday, Zec said: “The voters’ roll issued to stakeholders contains the above information as required by the law. The law in Section 21 (7) further requires Zec to issue a voters’ roll that is searchable and analysable, but tamper-proof. Zec is issuing a roll which can be analysed and searched by age, name, national registration number and residential address in conformity with the law. Zec advises all stakeholders who are unable to navigate through the voters’ roll to contact the commission for assistance instead of casting aspersions on same,” Zec said in a statement.
Zec further said stakeholders keen on accessing the voters’ roll with voters’ pictures should approach the commission with their own external computer hard drives onto which the roll would be downloaded.