'Zec full of spies'

HARARE - A top research institute has said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) secretariat remains wholly unreformed and full of intelligence agents and cannot deliver free and fair elections.

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), a public think tank said in a report titled, “Zimbabwe Election Commission: Can it Deliver FreePolls?” without fetters on Zimbabwe from Sadc — guarantors of the fragile coalition government — then the country is headed towards yet another sham election.

“The problematic, partisan, and militarised Zec secretariat that presided over the 2008 sham election remains intact, now serving under newly-appointed commissioners,” notes the think tank.

An attempt to break away from Zec’s past electoral shenanigans were made in 2009 through the appointment of independent commissioners seconded by Zanu PF and the two MDC formations but the secretariat remains largely unreformed says the report.

Headed by Lovemore Sekeramayi, the  unreformed Zec falls in Zanu PF’s scheme of things to hoodwink the region and pretend that there are free and fair elections, when the “electoral context, environment and administration are crafted to deliver a pre-determined outcome of regime retention and continuity.”

“ZDI contends that the unreformed Zec secretariat, as currently composed, cannot deliver free and fair elections,” the damning report says. “Zec, as currently composed, provides an opportunity to undermine the way through which powerful political forces can manipulate popular influence through institutionalized mechanisms and political strategies.”

A human factor decadence in Zec and the offices of the Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, impinge on the country’s hopes to have credible polls as the CIO and the army —whose top brass has already declared allegiance to Mugabe — will be in charge of the process and not the commissioners who cannot announce election dates, notes the report.

“The increased militarisation of the state has led to the military taking control of an expanding range of decisions and actions, from electoral and political strategies to the formulation and implementation of agrarian and economic policies.”

Since independence a creeping militarisation of the state by Mugabe’s government has been effected and today most of state institutions, parastatals and other bodies are led by retired or serving security personnel.

According to ZDI, both Zec personnel and commissioners largely represent the Zanu PF regime’s interests.

 It says Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe, the head of the commission, was a former high-ranking member of the Zanu PF military wing Zanla.

In as much as Mutambanengwe is sober, ZDI says he is erratic as he spends most of the time engrossed in Namibia’s legal affairs where he was seconded by Mugabe to be judge.

In the vacuum, Joyce Kazembe steps in and her links to Zanu PF are glaring, according to ZDI.

“Their continued involvement in the management of elections casts aspersions on Zec’s ability to preside over free and fair elections,” the ZDI report says. “They failed in the past and there is no reason to believe they will succeed in the future.

“With the exception of Feltoe and Nyathi, the other commissioners have a long history of working under the Zanu PF government and ZDI is of the view that they are compromised.”

Also a mystery that confounds researchers on Zec is the manner through which Zec workers are recruited.

Zec claims it has 10 provincial election officers and 60 district election officers nationwide.

Zanu PF has fiercely resisted an audit of the commission.

ZDI says the amended Electoral Act falls short of guaranteeing that elections will be free and fair.

“In the run-up to the June 2008 presidential run-off election a number of Zec employees were arrested and charged with a number of offences including ‘abuse of office’ widely viewed as a form of persecution and intimidation that could undermine the independence of the commissioners and Zec staff as provided in the Act — that every commissioner and member of staff of the commission shall perform their functions independently,” says ZDI.

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