When you listen to people like Douglas Mwonzora, it is easy to see why Zimbabwe is in up to her eyes in this political mess and, which is worse, is thrashing around like a drowning chicken, totally incapable of coming up with even one coherent idea of how to get out!
“What has NERA achieved so far in trying to force ZEC to implement electoral reforms?” Obey Manayiti, Standard reporter, asked Mwonzora.
“The first thing is that it was NERA which caused ZEC to embark on electoral reforms. As a result of the pressure from NERA, ZEC invited experts from the UNPD to identify areas of reforms,” replied Mwonzora.
“They identified voter registration, voter education and technical capacitation of ZEC as well as regular stakeholder meetings.
“ZEC then established a political parties platform where NERA’s numerous demands were met. The first was the demand for a new voters’ roll, second was the demand for a biometric voter registration (BVR) system and third was that it should be done by UNPD.”
In the 2013 elections many people were denied their democratic right to a meaning vote because they were denied the chance to register to vote. There were more voter registration centres in Mhondoro than there were in a Harare with a population of 100 000 and 2 000 000 respectively. It turns out the former is a rural area and a Zanu PF strong hold whilst the latter is an urban area and an opposition strong hold.
Nearly one million voters were denied the vote on voting day because their details were posted in a different constituent voters’ roll than the one they expected. The mistake would have been corrected if the voters’ roll had been release at least a month before voting day as is demanded by law. The powers that be have stubbornly refused to release the voters roll even to this day; which is why many people believe the posting of data to wrong constituencies was a deliberate and calculated move since most of those disenfranchised were opposition supporters.
So, the demand for a fresh voter registration exercise and a new voters’ roll per se makes a lot of sense but only if one has taken the necessary measures to ensure those tasked to carry out the voter registration and complying the new voters’ roll are competent and trustworthy. It is utterly pointless asking the same incompetent and corrupt body, ZEC, to carry out the same task they failed to do last time.
It is not voter registration system or voters’ roll per se we want to be reformed but the statutory body, ZEC, we want reformed. Surely this should have been obvious to NERA from the word go. It is only now that the penny has finally dropped!
“We are no longer talking of reforming ZEC, we want it disbanded and we want an independent electoral management body appointed by SADC, AU and UN,” explained Mwonzora.
“Yes, we will (succeed in getting ZEC disbanded) because we are able to tackle ZEC on three fronts which are political, the legal where we will take ZEC to court, challenge it and win then lastly is to deal with it through diplomacy and advocacy.”
Well I should have said a ha’penny! Disbanding ZEC and reforming ZEC are two totally different things.
What is totally disconcerting here is that Mr Douglas Mwonzora was a senior member of the MDC in the GNU tasked to carry out a raft of democratic reforms including reforming ZEC to ensure the 2013 elections were free, fair and credible. MDC approved the appointment of the present ZEC and assured the nation the elections will be free and fair against the advice of others like SADC leaders who said MDC should implement the raft of reforms agreed in the GPA.
Zanu PF was able to blatantly rig the 2013 elections because other state institution like the Police did not play their role in helping to deliver free and fair elections. There were many Youtube videos showing hooded youths bussed in to vote, for example. The opposition members flagged this problem but the Police ignored them; an all too familiar response by the Police and confirming their partisan bias.
The same political bias was shown by the Public media, the Judiciary, etc., etc.
Are we then going to disband the Police, Public media, Judiciary, etc., etc. just as NERA are calling for the disbanding of ZEC? SADC or the UN would be foolish to get entangled with Zimbabwe’s mess politics and fail to deliver free and fair elections because only ZEC disbanded!
If MDC leaders had implemented all the democratic reforms during the GNU, they had five years to do so but failed to get even one reform implemented, we would have had free, fair and credible elections in 2013! We cannot afford wasting another opportunity for getting the nation out of this mess whilst reforming ZEC alone. We must demand the implementation of ALL the democratic reforms BEFORE the next elections!