The integrity of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been called further into question by the resignation of one of its commissioners, Mkhululi Nyathi, on Wednesday.
In his letter to the Commission, seasoned lawyer Nyathi said he had been forced to step down as a result of the unprofessional manner in which the whole electoral process was handled.
Nyathi wrote: "I hereby tender my resignation from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with immediate effect. I do not wish to enumerate the many reasons for my resignation, but they all have to do with the manner the Zimbabwe 2013 Harmonised Elections were proclaimed and conducted."
Nyathi, who handed in his letter on the day of the election, explained that his resignation was not so much about the poll result but rather, the failure by the electoral body to ensure that the process was legitimate.
He added: "While throughout the whole process I retained some measure of hope that the integrity of the process could be salvaged along the way, this was not to be, hence my considered decision to resign."
Nyathi used the letter to commend Zimbabweans for the dignified and peaceful way in which they had gone to the polls, adding: "However these are not the only benchmarks of free, fair and legitimate elections."
He said all efforts to retain some measure of hope, that integrity of the whole electoral process could be salvaged along the way, had been futile.
Nyathi's resignation lends weight to the many voices that have raised concern over the shambolic conduct of the electoral process by ZEC, going back to the March 16th constitutional referendum.
Some of these concerns include the thousands of Zimbabweans that were denied the right to vote; cutting short the civic education exercise; the absence of an electronic voters roll to this day, as well as the militarisation of the voting process, among many others concerns that have been expressed.
Nixon Nyikadzino of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said commissioner Nyathi's resignation will vindicate civic groups and ordinary Zimbabweans who have all along been querying the way ZEC has conducted itself.
Nyikadzino said: "Nyathi's resignation was long overdue, not only for him but for all the Commissioners who failed throughout the process to conduct themselves with the professionalism expected of such a body.
"So they should all do the right thing and resign so that this election can be seen for what it actually is: a farce, and a sham so that another body can be set up to conduct fresh elections," he added.
Nyikadzino said observer missions that have already said the Zim election was credible, on the basis of being calm and peaceful, should re-examine their positions in light of Nyathi's resignation.
He said it was wrong for the teams representing the African Union, the Southern African Development Community as well as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, to urge Zimbabweans to accept a flawed and illegitimate process.
"All the observer missions are aware that this election violated all the regional and continental guidelines for the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections. Yet they have endorsed it," Nyikadzino said.
Nyathi is the second commissioner to resign, following that of then ZEC chairperson Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe in February. Mutambanengwe cited ill-health.
It was not possible to speak to Nyathi, who is said to be in South Africa at the moment. However, he confirmed his resignation to the South African Mail and Guardian newspaper on Saturday.