Justice Chigumba nobody’s Trojan Horse

Elsewhere in this issue we carry an interesting reminder from one of our columnists regarding the ongoing opposition attacks on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and its chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba.

In the analysis, the writer sheds light on how the MDC Alliance appears disillusioned that ZEC has not advanced the political outfit’s interests.

Mr Nelson Chamisa, the MDC Alliance leader and presidential candidate in the forthcoming harmonised elections, recently voiced this disappointment when he revealed that he was part of the process of selecting ZEC commissioners but was now unhappy with their conduct.

(Not that ZEC has broken any laws: it has actually played by the book.)

The MDC Alliance has been trying to lobby and pressure the independent constitutional body into making decisions that are patently illegal and have the effect of undermining its credibility in the long-term.

Two recent cases pertain to demands by the opposition to have the voters’ roll printed with pictures as well as general access to the printing, storage and distribution of ballot papers.

In the former case, ZEC has clarified that the details it captured on the roll to enable voter identification were enough and that the register was in an analysable format — one of the original demands of the opposition.

Additionally, ZEC explained that it was aware of legal minefields regarding identity theft and usage of the data for purposes other than those for which it was collected.

We note that after making noises on the availability of the voters’ roll, which the opposition got, the Alliance has not proffered any significant critique of the data, the format, presentation or any technical area.

In fact, the opposition has quickly forgotten about the voters’ roll and instead latched on to the issue of ballot paper printing and storage.

The opposition wants access to the process and its demands sound like they want to direct the process themselves, which is not only illegal but irrational.

ZEC has both the constitutional mandate and the technical knowledge of the process.

On the other hand, the MDC Alliance cannot, and shall not be allowed to play referee in a process in which it should be a player.

If one were to consider that the MDC Alliance, which believes in voodoo phenomena such as mutating ballots, it stands to reason that it would be a waste of time engaging such clowns.

In all this, it is becoming evident that the MDC Alliance, in its various guises, was looking for the proverbial Trojan Horse that would rig the elections in their favour.

In their calculations, a High Court judge who had made rulings that displeased the ruling party would be a fantastic addition to their war chest.

The judge, who in this case was Justice Chigumba, would be an asset.

On the other hand, a commissioner with opposition links such as Dr Qhubani Moyo, considered close to MDC Alliance principal Professor Welshman Ncube, would be an added advantage.

Unfortunately for the opposition, the two commissioners have served ZEC with integrity and have not bent the law to serve partisan interests. It is in fact the ruling Zanu-PF which should be complaining about how ZEC could even allow the opposition to view the printing of ballot papers when legally it should be the sole custodian of the entire process and only entertain reasonable requests. So far ZEC has refused to be anyone’s Trojan Horse.

The anger by the MDC Alliance should be understood in this context. Staring evident defeat, they thought they could use ZEC insiders to rig the elections. They feel let down that Dr Moyo and Justice Chigumba have refused to be used, hence the spirited attacks on them and efforts to use mob psychology through demonstrations to intimidate the two commissioners. It’s pathetic when one considers the number of lawyers, senior lawyers at that, stooping so low.

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