4 January 2013

Zimbabwe: ZEC Dalliance With Zanu-PF Raises Eyebrows

RECENT meetings the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been holding with individual political parties have raised concerns the body is not yet independent enough to preside over a free and fair poll.

Although Zec is mandated to provide electoral information to all parties, it is its meeting with Zanu PF that has raised suspicions after it emerged the body prepared a report advising the party to devise strategies to prevent voter apathy in national elections expected in June.

Zanu PF politburo sources told the Zimbabwe Independent the party is taking Zec's recommendations seriously and included them in a report tabled at its conference in Gweru last month.

"They (Zec) gave us advice on dealing with voter apathy as a way of ensuring our success in the forthcoming elections," said one source.

"We tabled those recommendations at the conference because we take them seriously."

Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said there is nothing wrong in getting reports from Zec.

"If you ask for anything from Zec they must give you their response and that will be a report," said Mutasa. "Any party can contact Zec and ask them what they want to know concerning electoral issues."

The Welshman Ncube-led MDC said Zec's role should be limited to creating a conducive atmosphere for elections.

The MDC-T met Zec in November over the voters' roll. The party has been calling for a complete overhaul of the Zec secretariat saying it is staffed with former soldiers and security officials.

In its Minimum Conditions for Sustainable Elections report, the MDC-T says "the new Zec must have the opportunity of recruiting staff afresh and not be saddled with legacy issues of the past".

In the 2008 elections Zec withheld presidential poll results for five weeks after Zanu PF had lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since Independence.

Political observers said Zec should not hold separate meetings with political parties since it has always been suspected of having Zanu PF links.

"If Zec meets political parties separately it exposes its duplicity and partisan nature making it unfit to administer the next polls," said Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director Pedzisai Ruhanya.

However, Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe refuted allegations of partisanship saying her organisation has an open-door policy.

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