George Chisoko Acting Editor—
Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono’s election to Senate has hit a brick wall after it emerged that he is not registered as a voter in Manicaland and until the law is put in place to allow people to register as voters and transfer their votes between constituencies. Dr Gono was slated to take up the Senate seat which fell vacant following the death of Cde Kumbirai Kangai on August 24 last year.
Zanu-PF won the seat on a party list system and could nominate a replacement.
In a letter addressed to Zanu-PF national chairman Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said there were no records showing that Dr Gono had registered as a voter in any of the wards in Manicaland Province.
“In view of the fact that Dr Gono is, on the face of it, not as of now resident in any ward in Manicaland, he then becomes disqualified to fill a vacancy in the province in terms of Section 45D (1) (d) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2.13],’’ said Justice Makarau.
Ironically, Dr Gono was recently quoted in some quarters of the media declaring that he was ready to lead the people of Manicaland, yet he is registered as a voter in Harare.
Dr Gono could not be reached for comment last night despite several attempts and text messages sent to him.
The Zanu-PF leadership in Manicaland had in December last year adopted a resolution to have Dr Gono take up the senatorial seat.
Justice Makarau said even if Dr Gono tried to transfer his registration to Manicaland, there was currently no legal framework for anyone to do so.
“Now that the function to register and transfer voters is vested in ZEC, the most practical way around the current difficulty would have been for Dr Gono to apply to the commission to transfer his vote from Harare to Buhera West,” she said.
“Again, Honourable Chairman, we regret to advise that, whilst we now have the constitutional mandate to register and transfer voters and are willing and ready to register and transfer voters, there is no legal framework on voter registration and allied matters as envisaged in section 157 (1) (b) of the Constitution, a vacuum that has made us hold back on voter registration, thereby prejudicing not only Dr Gono in this case, but the generality of the electorate in Zimbabwe.’’
Justice Makarau said the constitutional function to register and transfer voters vested in the then Registrar-General of Voters in accordance with provisions of Clause 6 (2) of Part 3 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution for the purposes of the July 31 2013 harmonised elections ceased when the voters roll for those elections closed on July 10 2013.
Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Cde Didymus Mutasa last night said the party was aware of the letter ZEC had written to the national chairman.
“The Politburo wants Dr Gono to be a Senator and if it means that the law would be amended, then let it be,” he said. “No one will reverse the decision of the Politburo. We will ensure that the law fits with the requirements of the party.
“Ukaona vakuru vachitadziswa kuenda pachigaro nekuda kwevaduku, then there is something wrong.”
Political and legal analysts last night concurred with Justice Makarau, noting that Dr Gono did not qualify to be nominated as Senator for Manicaland because he was not legally registered as a voter in that province.
They said the purported registration of Dr Gono had no legal force or effect because in terms of the new Constitution, the RG lost the power to register or transfer voters on July 10 2013.
Although the new Constitution gives ZEC the power to register or transfer voters, it cannot do that as there is no legal framework on voter registration and this does not have anything to do with Dr Gono as a person, but applies to everyone.