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shake-up looms at scandal-ridden Zec

A MAJOR shake-up is looming at scandal-ridden Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) after internal audits uncovered serious fraud involving inflation in the 2013 elections budget, fraudulent procurement of election materials and missing fuel coupons, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Elias Mambo

Sources at Zec said managerial changes were in the offing in the secretariat, which is under investigation for fraud amid indications the electoral body’s management may have inflated figures for last year’s constitutional referendum and the 2013 elections budget.

Zec insiders said it is not clear who is running the commission as its top management is currently rotating roles on a monthly basis in acting capacities, as government finalises investigations.

“Four managers are rotating as acting chief executive officer for a month each until the board finally appoints a new CEO,” a source said.

The source said the late chief election officer Lovemore Sekeramayi, who died last month while on duty in Lesotho, had been running Zec.

“A lot of changes are taking place and it seems the death of Sekeramayi opened a can of worms because it led to the unearthing of many irregularities at Zec,” the source said.

In an interview with this paper Zec chairperson Rita Makarau said the rotation of roles has nothing to do with current investigations.

“These are not changes but we just want the top management to have a feel of the CEO’s post,” Makarau said.

She said the commission has asked the secretariat to deal with the matter.
“The investigation is targeting the secretariat and the commission has left it to them to deal with this issue,” she said.
Current acting CEO, Stephen Goneso, said he was not aware of the looming changes.
“I am not aware of any changes that you are talking of,” said Goneso, adding: “Currently we are just rotating our duties until the vacancy that was created following the death of Sekeramayi is filled.
“There is nothing unusual in that because it is an internal arrangement. We make decisions together and whoever is in charge that month endorses our agreement,” he said.

Zec is under probe for fraud following two internal audit reports, one carried out soon after the 2013 referendum and the other after the July 31 elections.

Sources at Zec said the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Serious Fraud division has been summoning a number of senior officials since the beginning of March this year as investigations widen.

Deputy CEO (Administration) Notayo Mutemasango, director of administration Juba Chekenyere, deputy director (administration) only identified as Mazvidza, and several other junior officers in the procurement department have been summoned by police for questioning, sources said.

In the build-up to the July 31 elections, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), a local public policy think-tank re-invigorated calls for the inclusive government to take measures to demilitarise the Zec secretariat and its national operations to restore full independence ahead of the elections.

Zec was also criticised for failing to conduct both proper voter registration as well as voter education.

It however admitted to the long-held view that it is staffed with a militarised secretariat.

Addressing delegates at a workshop on conflict management in 2012, Zec commissioner Bessie Nhandara admitted some of the electoral body’s employees were once employed by the army and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

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