The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba has refuted widely held claims that they are in bed with the ruling Zanu PF saying their role is purely administrative and political parties and other stakeholders do not grasp that.
Speaking during a gender reporting workshop in Kariba recently, Chigumba said claims that they are biased are just a figment of people’s imagination and an unfair criticism on the commission.
“It has been long perceived that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission somehow favours or is biased towards the ruling party. I believe it’s a figment of people’s imagination, it’s also an unfair criticism of the commission’s activities because it’s given all its powers and its independence in terms of the constitution,” Justice Chigumba said at a question-and-answer session during a workshop on Gender with station managers from different radio stations.
She said the Commission follows the law and does not set policy.
“Those that are aggrieved by us following the laws of the country believe we should have a role outside our constitutional role, they believe that in executing our mandate it is alleged we interpret the provisions of the constitution restrictively and we are encouraged and sometimes shouted at them to say your interpretation of the law is incorrect,” Justice Chigumba said.
She said any political party that has any grievances should approach the responsible authorities such as the Electoral Court and the police.
However, aggrieved parties do not want to go to the police because the criminal process is a long one, it does not give them immediate relief, Justice Chigumba said.
“They go for low-hanging fruits, they then say they reported to ZEC and they did nothing. ZEC was never ever going to do anything because it’s not its mandate so I believe the perception of ZEC being in bed with certain political parties is just frustration expressed by those who do not understand the role of the commission,” she said.
ZEC, Justice Chigumba said, would embark on an awareness campaign with their stakeholders so that they understand how they operate.