'Security agents must leave Zec'

BULAWAYO - The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (Crisis) has said it is concerned with the continued involvement of State security agents in matters involving the country’s elections.

With opposition political parties and civic organisations having upped their ante in calling for a level electoral playing field, Coalition spokesperson Dumisani Nkomo told journalists here yesterday that the electoral process would be a farce as long as there was clear-cut interference from the ruling party and State security agents.

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) secretariat must be demilitarised and every semblance of military or security/ intelligence presence in the Zec secretariat must be flushed out as a matter of urgency in order to instil confidence in the electoral body,” Nkomo said.

“Some senior members of the security establishment continue to embed themselves in partisan politics, openly siding with the ruling party. This is a violation of the Constitution,” he said.

Nkomo also challenged Zanu PF to stop using traditional leaders as commissars as is the case in many rural areas where they are used to mobilise people for ruling party meetings, in violation of section 281 of the Constitution and the Traditional Leaders Act.

Nkomo further lamented the snail pace in implementing key institutional, constitutional and electoral reforms.

“Our fear as a coalition which represents over 150 organisations is that unless key reforms are delivered, the 2018 elections will become a mere farce with the script being the same as that of the 2013 elections, with the apparent possibility of the actor being the same, the plot being distinctly familiar and the outcomes being a déjà vu moment,” he said.

While welcoming the introduction of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system, Nkomo said if not implemented properly, the system “can be a monumental disaster”.

“Having said this, we welcome the introduction of the biometric voter registration system with all its challenges. BVR can only work effectively if it is accompanied by a broader swathe of institutional reforms. It is our contention that barely 16 months before the election, there is no clear election roadmap. At best, there is neither a road nor a map,” Nkomo said.

This comes after Zec last month carried out field trials of BVR kits provided by two companies, Laxton Group Limited from China and Dermalog Identification Systems, a German firm.

The Crisis spokesperson said since BVR captures physical and behavioural features such as fingerprints, the face, iris and signatures among others. It can be used as a tool of intimidating people, especially in rural areas, claiming their voting patterns are being monitored.

As a result, Nkomo said there was need for sufficient time in educating and informing the voting public about BVR.

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