Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has implored Treasury to disburse financial resources timely for by-elections to facilitate and maintain the smooth flow of the electoral process. The electoral body argued that lack of funding was compromising the quality of the electoral process. ZEC observed that the electoral body had got far less than what it would have requested in previous by-elections, but had to juggle around to enable it to continue conducting polls in a transparent and professional manner.
The concerns are contained in a ZEC by-elections report presented in the National Assembly last week by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
VP Mnangagwa oversees the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
“Reducing the number of voter education days compromised the quality of voter education,” reads the report signed by ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau. “Reducing personnel affected the swift processing of voters in queues and led to multi-tasking of polling officers, which exposed them to error.
“The challenges of late release of election funds and underfunding continue to recur during elections in Zimbabwe. These have a negative impact on the handling of election processes, especially in procurement of goods and services, deployment of human resources and implementing the electoral process.”
ZEC recommended that voter registration be funded separately from the election budget.
“The commission should be funded in all phases of the electoral cycle so that goods and services are provided and tested on time,” reads the report.
ZEC said it was hiring vehicles and demanded that it be availed with funds to have its own fleet.
“The commission relied on aged, unserviceable and dysfunctional vehicles for the conduct of the April 23, 2016 (Guruve South constituency) by-elections,” reads the report.
“Some of the vehicles were not roadworthy and were a risk to both the staff and election operations. The State should capacitate ZEC with funds to purchase and maintain its own vehicles.
“Notwithstanding the logistical and financial challenges encountered, the commission discharged its constitutional mandate in a transparent and professional manner.”
In respect of Guruve South constituency, Bubi Rural District council (ward15) and Vungu RDC (ward 2) by elections, ZEC got $340 000 against a requirement of $1,3 million.
The commission said it controlled the budget by reducing the duration of voter education period, reducing number of polling officers, but maintaining the same number of polling stations.