Mumba lacks respect for institutions: Ziyambi
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
SOUTHERN Africa Development Community Electoral Observer Mission chair, Dr Nevers Mumba, has been under fire for straying into issues that fell outside the Mission’s mandate in its preliminary report on the just ended harmonised elections that saw Zanu PF candidate President Mnangagwa being declared the winner, beating his closet rival, CCC leader, Mr Nelson Chamisa.
Dr Mumba’s report made several allegations against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Government and other State institutions.
Our Senior Reporter Zvamaida Murwira sought responses from Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi on the specific issues raised by the Mission and we produce excerpts of the response.
The Mission accused ZEC of “gerrymandering” on the delimitation report. It said ZEC failed to observe constitutional requirements for delimitation in that it failed to apply the correct methodology for calculating the 20 percent variance constitutional rule with respect to minimum and maximum sizes of the 210 Electoral constituencies.
The Constitution in Section 161 clearly outlines how the delimitation process is done. In line with provisions of the Constitution, ZEC conducted delimitation and produced a preliminary report that was given to the President and Parliament for comments and recommendations. The Constitution indicates that ZEC must consider the recommendations, but its decision is final. The President and Parliament gave ZEC their recommendations, and ZEC took some and rejected others. Those aggrieved went to court, and the Constitutional Court ruled in ZEC’s favour.
For Dr Mumba to then attack a process that was even subjected to judicial scrutiny for compliance with our laws is a clear indication of his lack of respect for our laws and institutions. For him to attack the delimitation exercise in the manner he did is a clear indication of lack of appreciation of his mandate.
The Mission says ZEC violated Section 62 of the Constitution which provides for citizens right to access information held by the Government or its agencies for the public interest when it allegedly failed to make available to stakeholders the voters roll in searchable and analysable form.
On the voters roll again, this was subjected to judicial scrutiny with Hon Allan Markham (of CCC) taking ZEC to court, and the courts ruled in ZEC’s favour. Besides, ZEC opened the voters’ roll for inspection, and anyone interested in auditing it was free to do so. Also, ZEC provided a shortcode where anyone could check their names on the phone. So no one can cry that they did not have the voters roll at their disposal
The Mission said the Constitutional provision on the right to freedom of assembly was not complied with because several CCC campaign rallies were not allowed or were subjected to “unreasonable cancellation” by the Zimbabwe Republic Police using the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act which the Mission described as controversial.
On the issue of CCC campaign rallies being cancelled or the party failing to get approval to hold rallies, the police issued a statement, and actually, Zanu PF had more rallies cancelled than CCC. The mission missed the point that while political gatherings are a necessity during campaigns, it is the duty of the police to ensure that peace is maintained. Where the police as regulator is of the opinion that holding a rally will undermine peace and order, they didn’t hesitate to cancel the meeting.
The Mission said the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act passed by Parliament this year curtailed freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Patriotic Act was assented to by the President a few days before the elections and was never enforced. The said Act deals only with those who partake in meetings with foreign governments with an intention to impose a trade boycott or sanctions. The talk that it curtails freedom is totally false.
Sadc Mission said the Nomination fees was “unduly restrictive to less well off members of the community such as women who lack the means.
The issue of fees was again settled by the courts, and as a constitutional democracy we abide by court decisions. It’s the same with the Kasukuwere issue. Once the courts pronounce everyone must abide by the decision.
The Mission said Zimbabwe was not in compliance with the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development which requires that women be given equal opportunities as men in political, social and economic activities.
On women’s participation, the Government amended the Constitution to cater to the empowerment of women. We also introduced women’s quota for local authorities. So Mumba’s utterances were shocking as they did not speak to the efforts done to ensure women participation. In the Senate, we actually have more women than men because of the application of the zebra system with a woman as a first candidate.
The Mission felt that the judiciary might be compromised should there be an election petition after reports that judges recently received large financial and material incentives which they said could be an attempt by the Government to buy the loyalty and allegiance of the judiciary.
On the judiciary, it is very sad that he chooses to attack the judiciary over a loan that is part of their conditions of service.
The Mission said the rural vote could have been compromised by alleged intimidation attributed to a group called Forever Associates Zimbabwe deployed to around 36 000 villages.
On the rural vote, it’s shocking and rather unfortunate that the report is based on hearsay without interrogation of actual facts on the ground. FAZ was not only in rural areas, but everywhere campaigning on behalf of Zanu PF. Results indicate that there are some rural constituencies that we lost. So if they were intimidating voters, why did Zanu PF lose in Matabeleland North?
The Mission said the State media was biased against opposition parties and candidates.
The State media invited all participants to take up slots for advertising as well as for interviews, but some opposition elements chose not to take it up.