MDC Alliance leader and Presidential candidate Mr Nelson Chamisa on Wednesday let slip a vital piece of information that must form a significant discussion point in the ongoing debate about the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and its capacity to run elections that are scheduled for July 30.
From the onset we must assert that, like all Zimbabweans of goodwill, we have full confidence in ZEC and its capacity to deliver a credible process with legitimate outcomes.
However, some quarters have raised issues that seek to place this capacity and tenets such as independence and transparency into question and it is largely the opposition MDC Alliance and its supporters.
Mr Chamisa’s admission on Wednesday that he was part of the process to choose members of ZEC, as he was co-chair of a parliamentary process — and was at the time satisfied with their credentials — should be read not only as a manifestation of cognitive dissonance.
Mr Chamisa is showing that he is dishonest and hypocritical.
As a lawyer and legislator, he knows that ZEC was established and capacitated in terms of the law.
The law also gives ZEC and other independent commissions established under Section 12 of the Constitution, independence in the exercise of their mandate, inter alia, supporting and entrenching human rights and democracy; promoting constitutionalism; promoting transparency and accountability in public institutions and securing the observance of democratic values and principles by the State and all institutions.
The Constitution stipulates in Chapter 12 that commissions are independent and are not subject to the direction or control of anyone (including Mr Chamisa) although they are accountable to Parliament for the efficient performance of their functions.
In particular, ZEC is given powers and functions to administer elections in the country. Its personnel are subject to rigorous tests in competence and integrity, as Mr Chamisa will no doubt admit.
The head of ZEC — its chairwoman — is, according to Section 238 of the Constitution, appointed by the President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (of which Mr Chamisa was part) and the chairperson must be a judge or former judge or a person qualified for appointment as a judge.
All these requirements and others, have been met. We also place it on record that in May 2016, Parliament conducted an interview of 24 candidates for the posts of commissioners out of whom six were chosen. These interviews were public.
The above highlights show two things: that ZEC is established in terms of the laws of this country and that it is manned by people of integrity.
A third important aspect is that ZEC has the capacity and resources to conduct elections in this country. As we speak, ballots for the harmonised elections are being printed — the process is halfway through — and will be ready for July 30.
The final voters’ roll has been availed and outside frivolous demands, has been shown to be in optimum condition to be used for the elections.
ZEC is also conducting voter education while it has enough polling stations countrywide.
With 24 days left before the crucial date, it is safe to say that it is all systems go.
However, we are afraid to say that those in the opposition led by Mr Chamisa are developing cold feet, especially given the fact that the political environment has been peaceful and severely short of causes that might threaten the process.
These realities explain the cognitive dissonance we mentioned above in relation to Mr Chamisa.
He knows that the process is credible and is manned by people with integrity and capacity.
He, too, knows that it is plain stupid to call for external bodies such as Sadc and the African Union to replace ZEC.
However, he has to prepare a face-saver as he eyes likely defeat on July 30.