10 April 2019

Zimbabwe: Chigumba Opens Up On Abuse, Hate Speech Suffered During Elections

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba says she was unfazed by the abuse and hate speech that she and other female commissioners suffered, mainly at the hands of opposition party members during the 2018 elections.

Chigumba became a subject of abuse especially online where mainly members of the opposition parties bullied her as they accused her of being a puppet of the ruling party led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

On two separate attempts, the MDC Alliance and other political parties threatened to invade ZEC offices intending to confront Chigumba on their demands which they wanted addressed a few days before the election.

However, speaking to 263Chat on the sidelines of a 2018 Elections Review Conference in Nyanga, Chigumba said those threats and abuses did not make her a victim in any way as she rose above hate speech.

"These attacks on our personas in particular were basically different opinions by our voters on whether or not we had executed our duties well.

"We decided to ignore and proceeded with our mandate and I believe we discharged our mandate to the best of our abilities," said Chigumba.

She said the female commissioners had to undergo a counselling session as they assured themselves that they were on the right path.

"We had counselling amongst ourselves and told each other that we took oath of office and we agreed in terms of the Constitution that we run elections," she added.

During the run-up to the elections, the opposition political party would picket ZEC offices and would come back with the same demands again despite the demands having been clearly outlined in the Electoral Act.

Chigumba said some of the voters and leaders who picketed their offices were ignorant of the demands they were calling for .

"It is my considered view that a lot of what transpired during the elections arose from a position of ignorance from our main stakeholders who are the voters," she said.

Meanwhile, ZEC will today launch the Gender Equality Baseline Survey (GEBS) which is meant to fulfil EX's mandate on research, gender equality and inclusive participation of women, men, youths and people living with disabilities in all electoral processes.

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