Analysts share views on polls

HARARE - Political analysts believe today’s synchronised polls will produce a contested outcome because they were not entirely free and fair. Before today’s polls, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) was under pressure to level the political playing field, tilted in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.

From the beginning, Zec made it clear that there would be no more discussions on contentious electoral issues raised to date, insisting it had done what it could to accommodate the opposition’s concerns and was now solely focused on the poll.

Maxwell Saungweme, a political analyst, told the Daily News yesterday the two main parties in the today’s poll — Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance — connived to draft the current Constitution, which he said was political parties-driven as opposed to a people-driven charter.

“So you have the foundation of the sham poll, being a sham Constitution drafted by politicians who did a sham process pretending to be the people,” he said.

Saungweme said the national charter is not clear on several electoral issues, which makes life difficult for Zec to deal with contentious issues.

“The Constitution created Zec and all provisions Justice (Priscilla) Chigumba is using. You can’t expect a clean process from a dirty Constitution. What is happening is the best Zec can do with that Constitution. So it’s ingenious for the opposition to now cry too loud about the sham process without acknowledging their culpability and agency in creating the Constitution which is the basis for on-going rigging,” said Saungweme.

“It’s a sham poll thanks to Zanu PF and MDC-T. It’s the people not MDC Alliance who are shortchanged by the sham poll.”

Piers Pigou, a senior consultant at the International Crisis Group, said it was critical that opposition parties record their concerns properly and transmit them to the relevant structures even though the structures are compromised.

“Notwithstanding the array of problems in the way Zec has managed key aspects of the election process and the confusion it has helped generate through its commitment to maintaining opacity and not investing in confidence building measures, the integrity of these elections can be protected by the voters.

“If they come out in large numbers and at each polling station in conjunction with observers and polling agents are able to ensure vigilant oversight of the voting, counting and results transmission, there is a good chance these polls will reflect the general will of the people,” said Pigou.

Law expert Alex Magaisa said on his blog that the issue of electoral reforms was not new and people must not blame the opposition parties because they were trying their best.

“The departure of (former president Robert) Mugabe did not change the system over which he presided. It is still there, firm and intact.

“In fact, even a fleeting look at the history of elections will show that the opposition’s electoral demands are not new. The systematic bias of Zec, the referee, is not a new phenomenon. Demands for reforms are being resisted by the same system that has always resisted them since Mugabe was in power.

“When someone tells the opposition that they should not make demands that cannot be met, there is a risk of condoning the unreasonable and unlawful resistance by ruling parties to meet electoral demands,” said Magaisa.

He added that Zanu PF was to blame on the issue of electoral reforms.

“If those demands cannot be met because it’s a few days before the election, it is not the problem of those raising the demands. Rather, it is the fault of those who have long-resisted them. The proper thing to do in such circumstances is to call the system to order for not addressing grievances in due time.

“That media reforms were required has been in the Constitution since 2013 and even election observers made those recommendations after the 2013 elections. It is not unreasonable to demand those reforms to be met,” said Magaisa.

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