THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should prove its independence and its ability to run the presidential election run-off without undue interference and pressure from political players, analysts have said.
The electoral management body last week came under attack from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for its conduct during the March 29 harmonised elections.
The MDC said it had lost confidence in ZEC and questioned its ability to handle the watershed run-off set for June 27 between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Political analysts said it was incumbent upon ZEC to prove to the stakeholders and the international community that it was independent in its operations and decision-making processes from the government and Zanu PF.
The observers said the host of ZEC shortcomings cited by the MDC and civic society prior to the March 29 election had dented the commissionâ€™s reputation.
They said it would take the electoral body a lot of work to cleanse its image.
The analysts were also unanimous in their view that Mugabe would not disband the current ZEC as it “represented the interests of Mugabe and Zanu PF”.
Lovemore Madhuku, chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), said it would be expecting too much from Mugabe to disband the current ZEC board.
“No amount of pressure can push Mugabe and Zanu PF to disband the current ZEC and reconstitute it so that it sticks to the rules of the game,” Madhuku said.
“What we are likely to experience now is a hardened Zanu PF because they realise that the amount of laxity they had before March 29 was dangerous as evidenced by their loss of the parliamentary stronghold.”
He said even Sadc could not compel Mugabe to disband ZEC.
“Even Sadc will not attempt to push for the reconstitution of ZEC because they know they cannot succeed in that regard.
“The best thing is for the MDC to campaign vigorously for international monitors and observers who are likely to lessen the tension of the environment,” Madhuku said.
Noel Kututwa, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), echoed Madhukuâ€™s sentiments saying ZEC had a “credibility debt” it would need to repay to Zimbabweans following the blunders experienced after March 29.
“ZEC has an unacceptable credibility debt that it has to pay to the entire Zimbabwean society due to its failures to effectively manage the general election on 29 March,” Kututwa said.
“It is currently a discredited body whose management of any election would produce a discredited outcome.”
He said the commission should be transparent and accountable to the electorate.
“What ZEC needs to do now is to ensure that it puts in place measures that will ensure accountability and transparency in the electoral process. It needs to explain issues affecting the smooth flow and conduct of the election,” said Kututwa.
He added that ZECâ€™s biggest responsibility is to ensure it exercises strict independence in opinion as well as in administration of the election.
“The situation should be different from last time when some players knew the results before others did.
“There should be transparency in the whole thing and that is what will make ZEC a truly independent entity that everybody can trust to run the elections as freely and fairly as possible,” Kututwa added.
In its letter to ZEC last week, the MDC raised doubts that the electoral body had the ability to effectively run the presidential runoff.
Said the MDC: “On the basis of the concerns expressed in this letter, the Movement for Democratic Change hereby formally notifies the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that it has resolved that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is presently incapable of conducting elections in Zimbabwe that are free, fair, transparent, proper, efficient, and credible, and which ensure a result that represents the true will of the people of Zimbabwe in accordance with the constitution of Zimbabwe and Electoral Laws.”
A host of issues were raised in the letter to ZEC, who responded by calling for a meeting last Friday of political parties contesting the run-off â€” the MDC and Zanu PF.
Of major concern to the MDC was ZECâ€™s pliancy to the demands of Zanu PF, which the party said was the biggest challenge facing the electoral body.
The MDC argued that ZECâ€™s lack of independence from demands by Zanu PF cannot guarantee an outcome that would be in line with the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe.
The MDC said it believed ZEC was “wining and dining” with Zanu PF in order to come up with a result that denies the people the opportunity to have the president they deserve.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said the MDCâ€™s demands for ZEC to be reconstituted would not be accepted by the government.
“This is a symbolic expression of unhappiness at the conduct of ZEC by the MDC. We should take the expression as simply an expression and not something the MDC was seriously considering its practicality,” Masunungure said.
“There is little the MDC can do between now and the date for the run-off. The MDC simply has to keep an eye on what ZEC does and what it does not do and point out those things so that their concerns are addressed.
“They also have to ensure an increase in the presence of their members in the command centre so that they monitor whether what ZEC does is in line with the rules of the election.”
By Nkululeko Sibanda