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ZEC threatens to dump consensus building …as pressure mounts

By Daniel Chigundu

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba says her commission is going to discuss whether or not to keep trying to build consensus on the 2018 election or to just exclude stakeholders.

Chigumba’s statement comes amid mounting pressure from opposition parties chiefly MDC Alliance with regards to transparency on the voters roll and the printing of the ballot papers.

MDC Alliance together with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) and other opposition parties have organised a demonstration in Harare demanding electoral reforms before the 2018 general elections in a few weeks.

So dire is the situation that political parties are also threatening to pull out of the polls if the irregularities are not solved in time.

Addressing the media at her routine Monday media brief, Justice Chigumba said it was clear that ZEC has failed to build consensus as the disputes keep coming up.

“…Now the difficulty that we are having is that no one is satisfied, different political parties and different stakeholders want different things, now we tried to build consensus quite clearly we failed.

“The question that we need to have to sit down and debate as a commission is should we continue to try and build consensus given that whatever exercise we have done has failed to build consensus in the first place perhaps we should just stick to our very strict constitutional mandate and exclude everyone.

“These are things that we are going to sit down and discuss and then come back to stakeholders but at the moment we are aware that there is no consensus,” she said.

Chigumba attributed the current disputes over printing of ballot papers and access to biometric voters roll to lack of clear legislation on some of the electoral process.

She said although they tried to go out of the way to make the process as inclusive as possible, still, the disputes keep popping up.

“We keep having these disputes around these areas as the law does not provide that members of the public or stakeholders be involved in these processes, our law says that only ZEC can do that.

“But despite the fact that this is what the law clearly says, we had said in the interest of inclusivity and in order to try and build consensus why don’t we do an exercise where we allow political parties to sit down and discuss the modalities and view the printing of the ballot paper.

“Now you can see the reason why we have always been reluctant to go outside the parameters of the law because despite what we have done there is still conflict around it, if there was a legal framework in place the law would tell us expressly what to do, when, how and why,” said Chigumba.

According to ZEC, political parties will never be satisfied because there is no legal framework, adding that with a legal framework everyone would know what they are supposed to do.

The commission also revealed that the door is not closed for discussions adding that parties can still make their demands and discuss their disputes through the multi-party liaison committees.

“We have tried and we have still said we have not closed the door, Commissioner Qhubani Moyo chairs the multi-liaison committees, the purpose of those committees is to have political parties in one room and discuss areas of dispute.

“We will still set up multi-party liaison committees, he will still invite them to come and talk about their requests or their demands, he will still do that because it’s his constitutional mandate,” said ZEC.

MDC Alliance Presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa told his party supporters in Marondera that the 2018 elections will only take place with a ballot paper that has been agreed upon by all the parties contesting.

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