Saturday 17 December 2022


The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is preparing for next year’s harmonised elections, with the ongoing delimitation exercise set for completion soon. The Sunday Mail’s Wallace Ruzvidzo (WR) spoke to ZEC spokesperson, Commissioner Jasper Mangwana (JM), on a range of issues, including preparations for next year’s plebiscite.

WR: Can you give us your assessment of by-elections that were held this year?

JM: The commission held a lot of by-elections this year, including the March 26 ones, which were quite big.

As a commission, we are happy with how our officers handled the elections because we did not have any major adverse incidents or issues in conducting them.

We held the last ones on December 17.

We are now waiting for the pending court judgement on the five wards in Binga, which were challenged in the Electoral Court.

We have seen great improvement in the conduct of polls.

People now better understand the legal aspects governing the conduct of by-elections, for example, that not everyone can participate in by-elections.

There are laws that determine who can participate in both local authorities and National Assembly by-elections.

For local authorities, the voters’ roll closes the day the vacancy arises, and for the National Assembly, it closes two days after proclamation of the by-election.

As a commission, we are happy that we did not have court cases challenging by-election results held throughout the year.

WR: What challenges did ZEC face during by-elections and how have they been addressed?

JM: Problems in elections are always the same, but the commission will continue to execute its mandate because we are aware of our Constitutional mandate, so, we will continue to ensure that we continue engaging stakeholders so that we improve on voter education.

The commission is happy because, when you see people mobilising their supporters to register to vote, it means they have faith in the process that is free, fair and credible.

WR: How prepared is ZEC for the 2023 harmonised elections?

JM: The commission is actively preparing for the 2023 harmonised elections.

You can never say that we are already prepared, but we are, indeed, working flat out to ensure that preparations for the elections are well on course.

We are also constantly advising the public on what the commission is doing to make sure that come 2023, we are ready to conduct the elections.

WR: How much will ZEC require to conduct the 2023 elections?

JM: The commission was allocated $101 billion, which includes $77 billion to conduct the elections, with the remainder going towards administration costs.

ZEC will continue to ensure that we undertake our mandate according to provisions of the law.

And the budget is adequate to guarantee that we deliver.

However, we will continue to lobby for more resources from Treasury, despite that, as a commission, we have never failed to deliver an election because of budget constraints. We would like to appreciate Government for its continued commitment to this key democratic exercise.

WR: Can you outline progress you have made in undertaking the delimitation exercise?

JM: The commission is working flat out on the delimitation exercise, and when we are ready, we will appraise the public on the latest developments.

However, if this exercise is not completed or the boundaries are proclaimed less than six months before the election, we will have to revert to using the 2007-2008 electoral boundaries.

It is also important to note that this is the first time we have done the delimitation exercise in terms of the 2013 Constitution.

Again, this is also the first time we are responsible for the demarcation of ward boundaries, which is more administrative and has a huge effect on resource allocation, as well as community development.

So, we are ensuring that we do a perfect job.

It is also important to note that, as we are conducting this exercise, it also has implications on the 2023 elections.

Another issue also pertains to the amendment of the Electoral Act, and any changes to the law.

The commission has always argued that it is important for the legislature to ensure that these laws are changed on time.

We also appreciate that the authorities are looking into setting up provincial councils and the youth quota system because these are quite important as we approach next year’s elections.

WR: Turning to the voters’ roll; some stakeholders have questioned the integrity of the document. How does the commission respond to these allegations?

JM: We have seen a lot of speculation from institutions that are not really known and we don’t know what they represent.

But what we can say is that, as a commission, we have a continuous voters’ roll inspection platform, which is *265#. This can be used by the public.

The commission has been providing this platform to ensure that people can apply for the correction of their registration details if there are any problems.

We are, however, happy that complaints about the voters’ roll amounted to less than 1 percent of the entire listing.

The complaints were raised during the voter inspection exercise, which ran for 10 days; in addition, the voters’ roll was published at 11 107 traditional polling stations countrywide.

So, to answer your question, the allegations are untrue.

They are coming from people who want to tarnish the commission’s image, because the voters’ roll inspection was done by the owners of the information.

There is no way a third party can be allowed access to someone’s identity details.

The commission is happy that no political party has raised issues about the voters’ rolls that we gave them for by-elections.

All contestants were given the voters’ rolls, and none of them raised any complaints.

So, as a commission, we are saying people should disregard speculators and engage us directly.

WR: What is the commission doing to safeguard the integrity of its systems from online mischief makers who reportedly hacked your website recently?

JM: We have reported this shadowy group to the police because it has attempted to hack our systems multiple times and we have left the matter to them for investigation.

However, we will continue to advise the public to desist from threatening the institution or attempting to get into online platforms used by the commission because that is a crime.

WR: How much progress has ZEC made in cleaning up the voters’ roll by removing names of deceased voters ahead of the elections next year?

JM: The commission will continue to publish notices of the deceased so that they can be removed from the voters’ roll.

We look forward to quite a lot being gazetted in the coming year, as we prepare for the 2023 elections. Sunday Mail





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