By Daniel Chigundu
Seasoned legal expert Alex Magaisa says the statement by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba that irregularities cannot stop an election has no legal bases.
Chigumba told the media last Monday that once an election has been proclaimed nothing will be able to stop it even if participants were to find irregularities.
The ZEC chairperson added that participants can only challenge the outcome of the election dampening the effort to audit the recently released voter’s roll.
However, writing on his Twitter page, Alex Magaisa said “…It’s a political statement disguised as a legal declaration. It exudes arrogance and has no legal foundation. What can be challenged afterwards can be challenged before.
“An election is a process which is guided by law. What the law can allow, the law can also stop. It’s not immutable. It is improper for elections referee to declare that an election can go on regardless of irregularities. She should be undertaking to cure the irregularities,” he said.
Zimbabwean elections since 2000 have been disputed with accusations of rigging to favour Zanu PF and the situation was even made worse when the opposition parties were denied access to the voters roll in 2013.
Up to now, the 2013 voters roll which is believed to contain numerous names of ghost voters remains a mystery and both ZEC and the Registrar General’s Office have failed to produce it.
According to Magaisa by making such bold declarations, Chigumba is speaking like someone who knows that everything is not ok.
He adds that the statement is not only inaccurate but also more political than it is legal
“She’s warding off pre-election challenges before they have even been presented. It betrays conduct of a person who knows there is something wrong. She may be confusing her role as a judge and ZEC chairperson. She doesn’t have the power to make such declarations.
“She made 2 legally inaccurate statements on what happens when a candidate dies or withdraws from an election. She said a candidate can’t withdraw which is false. Where a candidate dies, a new nomination process must take place with 23 candidates anything is possible.
Magaisa said “an elections referee has no business making bold declarations like she did without a full appreciation of the law governing elections. Her statement was political and has no foundation in law. Citizens would be well justified to make a political response.
MDC Alliance Presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa told supporters in Kadoma that he is aware that ZEC is deliberately breaking the law to favour Zanu PF adding that his party will not participate in rigged elections.
Chamisa has even promised that if things don’t change, his party will go to the streets to demand the required changes.
2018 election has been branded as the “this is it” for opposition parties especially MDC-T but there are fears that there might be massive rigging by Zanu PF using ZEC.
As a way of lessening the alleged rigging, the country’s main opposition is demanding to audit the voters roll, ballot paper, ballot paper printing and even the location of the voters roll data, among many other things.