We have ex-military, CIO officials in our secretariat: Zec

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has admitted to the long-held view that it is staffed with a militarised secretariat.

Addressing delegates at a workshop on conflict management in Harare yesterday, Zec commissioner Bessie Fadzai Nhandara admitted some of the electoral body’s employees were once employed by the army and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

She, however, claimed they resigned when they joined the commission.

Nhandara did not provide any proof to back her claims, but said it was impossible to sack them, likening it to “killing step children of a woman you want to marry”.

“Some, not all of the members of our secretariat, came from the various institutions you claim they came from but they left years back to join us,” Nhandara said.

“Since then they have been accomplished administrators capable of doing a diligent and professional job.

“In life we do not kill step children so a marriage starts on a clean slate and by the same speaking the fact that we have formed a new Zec does not mean that we should kill our children to start afresh — we will work with them,” she said.

Nhandara said it is important to deal with issues at hand and how people can move forward instead of dwelling on the past.

Civil society groups such as the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) and the MDC formations say Zimbabwe’s chances of conducting a credible, free and fair election remain slim because the Zec secretariat remains “problematic, partisan, and militarised”.

They argue the relationship between most of Zec’s employees and army, whose top brass regularly promises to subvert electoral outcomes should any other candidate apart from President Robert Mugabe wins the election, does not augur well for the polls.

ZDI says given the “partisan role of the security establishment in the political and electoral affairs of Zimbabwe,” the capacity of Zec to deliver a credible poll is very doubtful.

Meanwhile, Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe lashed out at Zimbabwe Election Support Network’s Rindai Chipfunde-Vava’s presentation on the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the prevention, management and resolution of election-related conflicts.

Chipfunde-Vava had praised CSOs saying they played a very important role in this regard and deserved to be given enough space to operate.

This did not go down well with Kazembe, who felt the presentation was biased, accusing CSOs of being partisan and unpatriotic.

“Vava’s presentation was one sided because on the ground we have had problems with their partisan nature and interference with our work,” she said.

“I have found that some civil societies are not civil. They are not patriotic and matriotic’ (sic) enough to work for the enhancement of peace. Zimbabwe is where it is now thanks to the CSOs’ activities as they dance to the whims of those western governments that sponsor them,” Kazembe said. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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