Perception crisis haunts Zec

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is haunted by a perception crisis that it is embedded in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF, the commission’s chief has said.

Zec, the body charged with conducting free and fair elections, is accused by opposition parties and civil society organisations of tinkering with the 2008 presidential election results to favour Zanu PF and fit the matrix of a run-off election.

Lovemore Sekeramayi, Zec’s chief executive officer, said they urgently need cash to launch a nationwide blitz, “intensify voter registration and voter education simultaneously.”

“Remember these processes are continuous. We would also like to be more visible and address the negative perceptions about Zec,” Sekeramayi said.

He said Zimbabwe needs about $190 million for the referendum and general elections this year.

Research think-tank, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) recently released a report that claimed Zec‘s secretariat remains wholly unreformed, full of intelligence and military agents such that it cannot be trusted to deliver free and fair elections.

Sekeramayi said Zec is still operating on a shoe-string budget and hopes that treasury will release funding in order to kick-start a massive awareness programme, meant to change negative perceptions.

Sources said UNDP, which has supported various programmes, is ready to bankroll the election but Zanu PF hardliners are not comfortable with foreign funding.

“Zec has done a lot of ground work in terms of training and capacity building of its staff and the establishment, the commission through the UNDP and its partners (Danida, Denmark, SIDA Sweden) facilitation has conducted multiple stakeholder workshops sensitising the various participants on the electoral process,” Sekeramayi said.

“In addition, UNDP facilitation has enabled Zec to acquire vehicles, computers, laptops, public address systems, dictaphones, TV sets, DStv decoders, DVD players and furniture,” said Sekeramayi.

Earlier this month, Morgan Tsvangirai met with officials from Zec and the Registrar of Voters’ office seeking to fast track the funding of elections but thus far Zec is living on promises and donations as treasury dithers on its earlier promises.

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