21 May 2018

Zimbabwe: Opposition Will Be Allowed to Monitor Printing of Ballot Papers - ZEC Boss

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chair Priscilla Chigumba says political parties will be invited to monitor the printing of ballot papers for this year's elections but maintains the poll agency will not bow to any arm-twisting by local politicians.

"The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, in terms of the constitution is not under the direction or control of anyone political parties, ruling party, opposition.

"We cannot and should not be under the direction of anyone," Chigumba said at a conference called to discuss the forthcoming elections at the University of Zimbabwe last Thursday.

Her comments follow repeated demands for the opposition for ZEC to come clean on which companies shall be contracted to print ballot papers for the elections amid fears polls were rigged using the abuse and manipulation of the balloting material.

Zanu PF opponents are adamant the ruling party has been conniving with ZEC authorities to rig past elections.

Chigumba said as ZEC commissioners, they took oaths of office to discharge their duties impartially and according to the laws of the land.

"When we do procurement for ballot papers or any other procurements, we are always guided by the Procurement Act," said Justice Chigumba.

"That Act and in all its specifications, in no way, shape or form, tells us that political parties should be involved in that process.

"If that Act and its regulations had a provision that said to us 'before you fulfil these procurement requirements, bring the consent of political parties', we will comply with that."

She challenged those seeking the scrapping or inclusion of certain legislative provisions to approach parliament to have their wishes drafted into the country's electoral statutes.

Zimbabwe will, in July, hold its first ever elections since the ouster of long serving leader Robert Mugabe and the death of long time arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

However, the country's successive polls have been accompanied by allegations of poll fraud in favour of the ruling party.

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