Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Introspects, Promises to Rectify Weaknesses

Zec introspects, promises to rectify weaknesses

September 24, 2013
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is convening a workshop to look into concerns raised by local and foreign observers with a view to improving on the country’s electoral system, chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said yesterday. In an interview, Justice Makarau said they had gathered concerns raised by all observers to the harmonised polls and were meeting in Masvingo for a week to review the electoral process.

“Yes we have started looking at all the observations made by both local and foreign observers and as we speak now, there is a workshop in Masvingo that started today which I will officially open on Wednesday.

“As ZEC, we are introspecting and say the harmonised elections are behind us. What did we do well, what do we need to improve on? What did we not do so well, which we also need to revisit and see if we can improve on?” she said.

“It is important for us to review our strong and weak points taking into account the reports that came from all the observers.”

One of the major observations made was the unavailability of a voters’ roll on time and in electronic format.

Justice Makarau said the delay was occasioned by challenges that occurred in the Registrar General of Voters, Mr Tobaiwa Mudede’s office.

“As you know his (Mr Mudede’s office) was mandated by our laws to manage the voters’ roll up to the end of the election. He made us understand that his machines packed up just before the elections and that he had not been able to put them up and that is why he could not give candidates the soft copy of the voters’ roll,” said Justice Makarau.

She said they had since started taking necessary steps to take over management of the voters’ roll.

“We hope to go into dialogue with the RGV, to see how we can take over that function from him. We shall be informing the nation when we will take over, how we will take over and what we will then do and whether we will also be able to provide the voters roll in electronic form,” she said.

Turning to her appointment by the African Union to lead the continental body in observing parliamentary elections in Rwanda, Justice Makarau said the confidence would spur her and the commission to work harder and improve on its service to stakeholders.

Justice Makarau led a 30-member team representing the AU in Rwanda last week where the East African country held its parliamentary election.

“That show of confidence in ZEC and in Zimbabwe in general, makes us want to try a little bit harder.

“Next time we will try to be a whole lot more professional and efficient now that these have been recognised by the continental body,” said Justice Makarau.

While the AU, Sadc, Comesa, African Caribbean and Pacific countries and the rest of the progressive world endorsed the harmonised elections in Zimbabwe as free, fair and credible, the Anglo-Saxon alliance that conceived and sponsored the MDC-T refused to endorse the elections in the wake of MDC-T’s crushing defeat at the hands of Zanu-PF during the July 31 harmonised elections.

Commenting on the allegations, Justice Makarau said while criticism was healthy, it had to be fair.

“Yes, criticism must be levelled against any process because it is from the criticism that we grow. But criticism must be fair and must take into account the actual delivery on the ground.

“There is no election in the world that is perfect,” she said.

Asked what lessons she drew from the Rwandese polls, Justice Makarau said Kigali was preoccupied with uniting its people after its turbulent past characterised by the 1994 genocide.

“For example there is no open contestation about politics in Rwanda. In other words their campaign is not as loud as maybe most of us are used to.

“You don’t see people running in the streets blowing their horns or having these huge rallies where people are sloganeering. They do campaign but theirs are low key campaigns. I think it is a way for Rwandese to say ‘Yes’ we do get excited by politics but let that excitement not divide us,” she said.

The AU election observer mission, comprised 30 experienced observers drawn from the Pan-African Parliament, African ambassadors/permanent representatives to the African Union in Addis Ababa, African election management bodies, and civil society organisations in Africa.

The observers arrived in Rwanda on September 9, 2013 and most of them would remain until September 21, 2013.

The mission is assisted by a group of experts from the African Union Commission, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).

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