PRINCIPALS to the Global Political Agreement have appointed Supreme Court judge Justice Rita Makarau as acting chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Justice Makarau is also the acting secretary of the Judicial Service Commission.
She takes over from Retired Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe who resigned last week on health grounds.
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday confirmed the development.
"The principals have agreed that Justice Rita Makarau assumes the post of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson on an acting capacity from the date of appointment to the end of December 2013," he said.
The appointment comes at a time Zimbabwe is preparing for a constitutional referendum next month followed by general elections at a date to be announced.
"The appointment will give Justice Makarau the responsibility to oversee the conducting of a voter registration blitz if it is carried out, the referendum expected next month as well as the harmonised elections at a later date," Minister Chinamasa said.
He said by December this year, the electoral body would have produced an election report.
"We have asked her to be the acting chair up to that time so that she produces an election report and I think that she, together with the commission, would have done that by December," he said.
Minister Chinamasa said Justice Makarau would revert to her normal duties after December.
"As you know, she is a Supreme Court judge who has been acting as secretary to the Judicial Service Commission.
"She has been given a responsibility to set up the Judicial Service Commission as a separate employment entity and she will resume that office after the completion of her assignment as acting chairperson of ZEC."
Minister Chinamasa said he was consulting with JSC over the appointment.
"As required under the Constitution, I am consulting with the Judicial Service Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders," he said.
"After the consultations are complete, we will cause the President to appoint her."
President Mugabe appoints the ZEC chairperson in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.
The chairperson must be a judge or former judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court, or a person qualified for appointment as such.
Justice Mutambanengwe, who had taken over from the now Judge President Justice George Chiweshe, resigned after being in charge of the electoral body for close to three years.
His term was expected to expire in 2016.
ZEC is preparing for a voter registration and education as part of initial stages for this year's general elections and the constitutional referendum.
The electoral body has been meeting members of the executive led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and one of the key issues that came out was the need to fund voter education programmes.
ZEC has submitted a budget of US$192 million for elections and referendum, but is yet to receive the money from Treasury.
Voter registration requires about US$21 million.
Government has set up a three-member Cabinet team chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to look for money from the private sector.
Other members of the committee are Minister Chinamasa and Finance Minister Tendai Biti.
Funds from the donor community are expected to complement money sourced from within Zimbabwe.