The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) yesterday said it will not allow any political party to be directly involved in the national mapping exercise being carried out by the electoral body.
Various political parties have been demanding that they be involved in the mapping exercise that will see voters being restricted to voting at one polling station.The national mapping exercise, which ends on November 30, is meant to identify households that will fall under an identified polling station in a ward. ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told political parties during an engagement meeting that they had no constitutional mandate to be involved in the demarcation exercise.
“They have been demanding but as ZEC, we are quite clear that operations are our main domain,” he said. “We execute our operations independently of any political party or any other State agency. Yes, they may come and look over our shoulders as we are working in some particular areas but when it comes to making decisions and designing programmes,
ZEC is going to do so independently without interference from anyone.”
She added: “When we engage you (political parties), it is out of goodwill otherwise where we have a constitutional mandate, we will simply say take it or leave it. You do not have the mandate to demarcate and the moment you do that, we lose our independence and we will be breaching the law.”
The national mapping exercise will also eliminate the possibility of double voting. The exercise is part of the reforms that ZEC wants to introduce as the country prepares for the 2018 general elections. The idea of a polling station-based voters’ roll will see a voter casting a ballot at a specific polling station at which his or her name appears on the roll.
“They can form sub-committees which can discuss and debate issues and present a report to us on how we can improve our processes but they should not tell us how we should operate because we should be allowed to operate independently,” she said.
“In operating independently, I am not saying we will not make mistakes, we are human beings. That’s why we invite all stakeholders saying where they think we make mistakes, they should independently tell us and independently we can accept or not accept.”
The political parties demanded that Justice Makarau issue a statement denouncing the police for “disrupting” their rallies.
She responded: “The law is quite clear on when you can carry out your campaigns, how you can do it. I am not there to supervise the police in carrying out their constitutional mandate. I have my constitutional mandate and when those mandates conflict, the best way the conflict can be resolved is maybe through the court of law. I will keep on spelling out to you that yes, the law is on your side but if the police believe that a law has been breached then I cannot stand in their way.”
Justice Makarau said ZEC would continue engaging the political parties together with faith-based organisations and the civic society for them to have an appreciation of the work being done by the electoral body.
“From the engagement we have had with them you can see that most of them do not understand what this (mapping exercise) entails and we doubt they will be able to pass on the correct information to their members,” she said.
“We will keep on engaging them so that they are familiar with some of the programmes we have, the projects we are unveiling and terminology we use.” herald