Chigumba new Zec boss

HARARE - High Court Judge Priscilla Chigumba will be sworn in as the new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson after her appointment yesterday.

Chigumba was informed of her appointment yesterday through a letter signed by Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda.

“His Excellency the president of Zimbabwe, having consulted with the Judicial Service Commission and the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, has the pleasure to appoint you as the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with immediate effect. You will be sworn in as chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission at State House tomorrow as 10:00 hours,” reads the letter.

Chigumba will take over from Rita Makarau, who stepped down in December last year for yet unclear reasons.

The departure of Makarau, who is also a judge of the Supreme Court and chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), came a few weeks after the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe and also a few months before the country holds key general elections.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has previously intimated he would appoint another female as the new Zec chairperson.

According to the Constitution, the president first informs the JSC and the Committee of Standing Rules and Orders who he is considering appointing and gives them an opportunity to comment on the proposed appointment.

The president has to consider their comments but is not obliged to follow any recommendations they may make.
Zimbabwe will hold elections in four to five months, according to Mnangagwa, who told the Financial Times in an interview last week that he was head-hunting for a female to replace Makarau.

“Currently, there’s no head. The head resigned, the chairperson of the commission, . . .  Makarau, resigned. I believe that by Friday I will have appointed another — this week,” Mnangagwa told the Financial Times then.

“If the vice chairperson is a man, the chairperson must be a woman, so I’m looking for a woman. Secondly, the woman must have been a judge or a lawyer qualified to be a judge. I had names brought to me by the Chief Justice to say which judges — the head of the Law Society — which persons.

“So we, of course, have several women who sent in their CVs and I believe by tomorrow or Friday — because there must be consultation between me and, in Parliament, the Speaker and the Justice Commission — I believe that by Friday this will have been completed because I gave them the names last week. Then I’ll appoint one. We believe that we need somebody with integrity, an impeccable record in terms of his or her CV. That’s what will guide us.”

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has previously said the appointment of a new Zec chairperson was the prerogative of the president.

He was cautious on Chigumba’s prospects, saying no appointment had been confirmed.

Chigumba served as a resident magistrate and provincial magistrate before being seconded to work as a senior professional research assistant in the Office of the Chief Justice before she was sworn in as Judge of the High Court on December 20, 2011.

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