HARARE – National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) has demanded that President Robert Mugabe disbands the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) after it failed to censure his ruling Zanu PF over electoral violations in recent by-elections.
The lobby group’s head of legal affairs, Douglas Mwonzora, told the Daily News recently that Zec failed the basic test of being an independent electoral management body in its administration of recent by-elections and ought to be disbanded.
Mwonzora said they would also back the legal process with mass protests and a diplomatic offensive to have the United Nations run the elections if Mugabe does not give in to their demands.
“We dispatched a letter to Mugabe on Thursday asking him to dissolve Zec, pointing out those things that Zec have done wrong. For example, the by-elections that it has handled were characterised by violence, voter fraud, intimidation, vote-buying, bribery, food being abused for political gain and in some instances stands were offered.
“Zec should have censured Zanu PF for doing that but instead Zec just kept quite. So, it has failed in the basic test as an independent electoral management body and we of course know what Mugabe’s answer is. He is going to deny, he is going to refuse, he is going to be stubborn, but we are then going to escalate it at the political and diplomatic scale,” Mwonzora said.
He said the parties were ready to trigger their three fall back options – a legal suit, political challenge and a diplomatic offensive.
“There are three potent things that we can do. The first is the legal route, if a constitutional body begins to act unconstitutionally, then it ceases to have legitimacy and it must disband. So, we can kick-start the legal process for the dissolution of Zec.
“Number two, we will go to the streets, the political solution. We are going to flood the streets of Harare, Bulawayo, and Mutare demanding that Zec must disband. Then number three, we are going to the diplomatic front. We are going to ask Sadc, AU (African Union) and United Nations to run the elections for Zimbabwe,” Mwonzora said.
The move by Nera — a grouping of 18-plus opposition political parties — comes barely a week after 93-year-old Mugabe defended Zec saying it was doing its work properly.
“Unable to face our mighty party, they have now turned their guns on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission; they are fighting a commission that has no fault,” Mugabe said while addressing Zanu PF’s central committee meeting a fortnight ago.
“Itself a constitutional body mandated to run elections in our country, afflicted by madness as it were, which knows no bounds they even seek to interfere with the mandate of government tendering process, hoping for some optimistic fissures and little chances that might give them a little respectability.”
Mwonzora said they have set up subcommittees headed by political party leaders.
“On Thursday, we sat as political parties who are fighting for electoral reforms. We agreed that the political parties will fight on three fronts — the legal front, the political front as well as the diplomatic front and we therefore created sub committees of the political parties and put the various political party leaders to head those three.
“The diplomatic subcommittee will be led by Morgan Tsvangirai, political subcommittee will be led by Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru and the legal subcommittee will be headed by Tendai Biti. This is a very, very good development indeed,” Mwonzora said.
He however, said on a positive note, Zec had written to them inviting political parties to send their representatives to witness a validation test of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits.
“We also received a letter from Zec on Thursday calling upon the political parties to send their representatives for accreditation to go and do the validation test for the BVR kits.
“The three suppliers will be on parade. We are going to send our technical experts to look at those machines.
“We are very excited that the people who were finally chosen are people who were chosen by the United Nations and we are very, very excited,” he said.