Parties heckle Makarau

ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Rita Makarau yesterday left representatives of political parties seething with anger after she stormed out of their meeting, over claims she was being abused in the media.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau

Makarau angrily waved copies of stories published by the NewsDay and other publications citing the manner she has led the Commission. These were briefly circulated when she walked into the Zec boardroom declaring she would not accept abuse, but criticism.

“We accept fair criticism, yes, balanced and fair criticism we have always welcomed it. Abuse we say no by anybody, political parties or any stakeholder.

“Because we are beginning to feel that our engagements have been misunderstood. We believe it is time for Zec to go back to the drawing board and see how best we can engage with you. As far as we are concerned this platform is not working and accordingly there will be no meeting today,” Makarau ranted.

She added: “You thought we had called you to intimidate you into aborting your demonstration (but) we want to give you our assurances. That is not our plan. We called you to dialogue, but you do not want to dialogue with us in good faith. This meeting is aborted and I am asking everybody within Zec to please follow me outside.”

Sensing an angry reaction from political parties representatives, riot police were called in and sealed Zec offices.

After serious negotiations, about five delegates were allowed in to persuade Makarau into meeting the political parties’ representatives.

However, following a long wait, more drama unfolded when Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) official Kudakwashe Bhasikiti went on to recall their representatives claiming he was sent to break the meeting since the delegates had made a resolution that they too were no longer interested in meeting Makarau.

The political parties said they wanted Zec disbanded and will start ratcheting up pressure starting today with the planned demonstration, which will be followed by another meeting of leaders of political parties on March 30 to map the way forward.

According to the opposition parties, it would be better for Sadc to run the polls.

MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora announced they had agreed to further engage but through letters and to continue criticising Zec, but objectively drawing angry objections.

“When we send you to meet Makarau there was a serious reflection to access the pros and cons of deliberations with Zec going forward. We agreed that Zec is not genuine in dealing with us as political parties and we are only dancing to her tune. What you agreed in that meeting is subject to Makarau’s approval and that is what we don’t want.

“She cannot disappoint those who are managing her. Therefore, we don’t want to be managed by her anymore because she is not independent and she cannot lead an independent electoral system,” Bhasikiti charged.

He added: “We are declaring a stalemate and an electoral crisis and that is what we have agreed as political parties. Tomorrow everyone in Nera and outside we will go to the demonstration and from there the leaders of political parties will meet soon and what we don’t want to see is Zec led by Makarau. They don’t have capacity because they are being managed from somewhere, they are not independent.”

Others said they have lost confidence in the Commission and new strategies were required to force government and Zec to act on reforms.

Tempers almost boiled over when Zanu PF director of commissariat Kizito Kuchekwa defended Zec, saying it was improper to allow parties to plot against Zec at its own offices.

“We thought the demonstration was against government but we see now it is against Makarau and we think in that scenario this dialogue is difficult to continue,” he said drawing a chorus of objections.

Mwonzora then declared a deadlock adding opposition parties wanted an election run by either Sadc or the United Nations.

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