We don’t have power to deal with vote buying: ZEC

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THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has said it does not have the powers to investigate the issue of vote buying because it is a criminal case which should be handled by the police.

Zec’s response follows a letter written by the MDC led by Nelson Chamisa in which the opposition party demanded that the electoral body stops Zanu PF from giving people food aid ahead of elections.

The MDC had alleged that the ruling party practiced vote-buying ahead of the Lupane East by-election last year and Kuwadzana ward 44 by-election early this month.

In a letter written by Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba on February 7, the electoral body said it would ask the police to investigate the MDC’s concerns.

“We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated February 3, 2020 and received by us on February 7, 2020, in which you raised a number of issues relating to queries in the behaviour of Zanu PF candidates and officials in the impending and past by-elections. Further you raise concerns regarding voters’ rolls of some by-elections.

“As you may be aware, the allegations you raise constitute a criminal offence in terms of section 136 (1) (c) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13). Further take note that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission does not have investigative powers for criminal offences. As such, the matter will be referred to the Zimbabwe Republic Police for investigation,” read part of Chigumba’s letter.

In the letter to Zec, MDC secretary-general Chalton Hwende had accused the electoral body of failing to take action against election malpractices.

“We have many a time brought a number of electoral malpractices committed by yourselves as well as Zanu PF to your attention without getting redress and for avoidance of doubt, find herewith incidents which we brought to your attention. On July 16, 2019, one Victor Matemadanda known to us and answers to the title of National Political Commissar of Zanu PF, made correspondence to minister Obadiah Moyo, who is a minister of Health and Child Care, to provide drugs to Lupane East on an eve of an election to bribe voters. In the circumstances, we now view you as a political competitor other than an impartial referee.

“Such incidents and your inaction cast doubt on the fairness of our electoral processes and continues to bring to question … impartiality of your office in handling national elections,” MDC letter reads.
Zanu PF has regularly been accused by the opposition of using State resources to entice the electorate.

The opposition claims the ruling party uses food hand-outs and farming inputs, to buy votes, allegations which have been denied by Zanu PF.

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