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Electoral Commission appointed

Gift Phiri

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has appointed to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) well-known Zanu PF sympathisers whom he has tasked with spearheading voter education and condu

cting the forthcoming general election.

Mugabe yesterday appointed five commissioners led by High Court Judge Justice George Chiweshe who was chairman of the Delimitation Commission.

The other four commissioners are Sarah Kachingwe, a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, George Kahari, a UZ professor of languages, retired Anglican bishop, Reverend Jonathan Siyachitema, and little-known Vivian Ncube.

Siyachitema was a former Anglican Bishop of Harare and was in 1999 appointed to Mugabe’s ill-fated Constitutional Commission as deputy chair.

Mugabe chose the five commissioners from a list of seven nominees submitted recently by the Zanu PF-dominated Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

The standing committee has 11 Zanu PF and seven Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC) members. Of the 11 Zanu PF members, eight are the nominees of the current ex officio committee chair, Speaker of the House, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has the right to vote on the Parliamentary Committee. The ruling party committee members include Vice-President Joseph Msika, four ministers, and three deputy ministers.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube yesterday said his party had no confidence in the commission.

“The judge (Chiweshe) has to prove himself to be impartial,” Ncube said. “He has to demonstrate that he has the capacity to conduct his duties impartially. Considering the manner in which he handled the (Cain) Nkala case, that does not give us much confidence.”

 Meanwhile, voting for candidates to represent the ruling Zanu PF in the forthcoming legislative poll continued yesterday after the ruling party’s national elections directorate ordered a rerun in 17 constituencies following reports of rampant violence, fraud and confusion.

Reports received late yesterday indicated that in most places polling only started in the afternoon although voters came early in the morning to vote. The party continued using its dubious cardboard ballot boxes marked “mixed fruit jam” in most constituencies.

Although voting wound up around six last night in most places, immediately followed by ballot counting, the Independent was told that supporters continued casting their ballots well after that time in Kariba where the sitting MP, Isaac McKenzie, is shrugging off a fierce challenge from his predecessor, Shumbayaonda Chandengenda, and two other obscure hopefuls, an E Tsoro and one Jonasi.

Serious controversy preceded the Mutare central primary election as Shadreck Beta’s supporters held demonstrations against the exclusion of the tycoon, who was barred from contesting in the re-run of the poll as he was said to be responsible for the irregularities in the initial election. Results had not been announced for the two remaining candidates, magnate Esau Mupfumi and Charles Pemhenayi.

Reports from Bulawayo indicated that the elections were marred by confusion as voting started late in most areas. The elections were characterised by serious voter apathy. Seven constituencies were contested in Bulawayo yesterday while in Matabeleland North elections took place in Binga after logistical problems stunted progress last week. In Lobengula Magwegwe, central committee member Molly Mpofu was elected unopposed.

In Gwanda deputy Foreign Affairs minister Abednico Ncube locked horns with three other contestants, Gwanda mayor Rido Mpofu, Nathaniel Abu-Basuthu, and Robson Mafu.

The elections were delayed after the Zanu PF Matabeleland South provincial co-ordinating committee barred Ncube and Andrew Langa from contesting for their alleged involvement in the Tsholostho Declaration. The ban was later lifted.

Langa retained the right to represent the party after he was elected unopposed in Insiza.

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