HARARE – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) on Tuesday admitted that they are powerless to act on electoral irregularities.
Speaking to journalists, Zec chairperson Rita Makarau said the law does not empower them to adequately enforce electoral laws.
“Our laws are weak,” Makarau said. “While Zec is given a mandate to monitor, Zec is not given teeth to bite. We would really love to have teeth to bite and bite painfully. The laws are weak in our view and that is why we are crying for the laws to be strengthened to give us absolute control.
“For the media, we have the media monitoring. Like what I said, their role is just to monitor, not to punish.”
Makarau said her organisation is in talks with opposition parties who are demanding electoral reforms
“Zec is having some engagements with these political parties. We are listening and considering their requests,” she said.
Zec’s critics argue that the reason for its biased and compromised performance is that it is essentially held captive by Zanu PF.
President Robert Mugabe, the ruling Zanu PF party leader, retains exclusive prerogative to appoint Zec commissioners while the government controls the commission’s finances.
Despite the accusations, Makarau said the electoral body was working to improve their image in the eyes of voters.
“Lack of trust is the biggest challenge. We are working to build trust. We have some people who used to work in the army, police but who now have contracts of employment with Zec, it’s a fact that we do not deny,” she said, referring to widening calls to demilitarise the Zec secretariat.
Makarau said her organisation has not yet raised enough money for the compilation of the biometric voters’ roll, but was confident they will complete the process before elections.
“Yes, Zec has got time lines at the moment; we do not have enough money. We do not believe it will compromise the next election; we will complete the voter registration in good time for election.
“Zec is embarking on a new voter registration and after that, it will then compile a new voters’ roll because our voters’ roll exercise is going to be biometric and to come up with that voters’ roll, we are going to capture everyone’s biometrics.”
Makarau rejected claims of conflict of interest between her job as Zec chairperson and her role as secretary of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). Opposition parties and political commentators have long demanded that the top court judge relinquish one of the roles.