By A Correspondent- Exiled former Cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) must be “hit hard” with lawsuits to force the elections management body to be transparent in handling the voters’ roll.
Zec has been at pains to explain discrepancies uncovered in the voters roll and has dismissed the document as fake and tampered with to discredit the electoral body.
The elections body has also accused politicians of causing confusion by signing affidavits with fake addresses for their supporters for use in voter registration.
Zec has also threatened to sue pressure groups, data activists and other stakeholders for publicising alleged discrepancies with registrants’ particulars arguing this posed a security risk.
Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba has been accused of fuelling the confusion after she claimed that the elections management body was only accountable to Parliament.
Moyo said Zec’s defensive approach to criticism must invite lawsuits from the public and other stakeholders to ensure transparency and to safeguard the credibility of the March 26 by-elections.
“It is very clear that Zec, through its chairperson Chigumba and its chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana, is contemptuous of voters and prospective voters; and the time has come for voters and prospective voters to hit ZEC very hard with lawsuits from left, right and centre,” Moyo said.
“That is what now needs to be done, by voters and prospective voters. Zec must be sued like hell. Civil society and other well-wishers, who want to see free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, must brace themselves and get ready to assist voters and prospective voters to support public interest litigation by voters and prospective voters.”
Some of the discrepancies uncovered include the movement of over 170 000 registered voters from their constituencies.
Independent election watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) urged Zec to subject the voters’ roll to independent data experts to allay the confusion and safeguard the credibility of the elections.
“Otherwise, Zec is accountable to the public; that is why section 233 (d) of the constitution requires Zec, and indeed all Commissions, “to promote transparency and accountability” as a public institution.
“Zec is required by the constitution to do this, that is to promote transparency and accountability, as an independent body which is not subject to the direction or indirect control of anyone, not even Parliament,” Moyo added.
“So, it is very clear that as an independent constitutional body in a constitutional democracy, Zec is without any doubt accountable to the public in accordance with the law. That is the essence of a constitutional democracy, full stop.
There is absolutely no way that an electoral body operating outside the law can ensure the conduct of elections and referendums that are efficient, free, fair and transparent in accordance with the law,” he said.
“It is for this reason that the current Zec commissioners and senior managers must be disbanded and replaced.”
Zec has in the past dismissed accusations that it rigs elections on behalf of the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Zimbabwe’s last major elections in 2018 were disputed and Zec was largely blamed for the chaos.