By Divine Dube
In an interesting turn of events, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Commissioner, Dr.Qhubani Moyo temporarily left the podium when some members of the audience attending ZEC’s presentation held in Bulawayo mockingly shouted “Zanu PF” as he was talking about their preparedness to handle 2018 polls.
After a few minutes, Moyo then resumed his address – which ironically, was being aired live on Skyz Metro FM, a local commercial radio station which he runs as its chief executive officer.
While the conference which was organized by the National Youth Development Trust at the Bulawayo City Hall was also addressed by various representatives of opposition political parties, the audience’s negative reaction towards the ZEC Commissioner speaks volumes of growing citizen mistrust on the electoral body.
But despite the repulsive behavior of the audience, Moyo was unwavering and boldly claimed that ZEC was now a reformed institution.
“What I know is that the institution I serve is reformed,” Moyo said as some members of the audience mumbled in disagreement.
“We must desist from measuring the performance of ZEC based on its past; let us instead look at its current performance which in my opinion is positive.”
He continued: “Some of us (Commissioners) were elected in public – through open interviews. Is this not being transparent?”
“The mere fact that ZEC commissioners were not imposed is a positivity which we should use to gauge its independence.”
But despite Moyo’s attempt to present ZEC in good light, various political figures who spoke on behalf of their political parties roundly condemned the electoral body and accused it of several ills such as being partisan.
Kucaca Phulu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said his party was not convinced that ZEC can deliver free and fair elections under its current form.
“Our problem as a country regards elections is not the Biometric Voting System. It is not.”
“Our problem rather is institutions such as ZEC which we believe are not capacitated to run elections.”
“As a party we strongly believe that at the moment we are not ready for elections and as such even if we participate in the 2018 polls, Zanu PF will simply romp to victory,” Phulu said.
MDC’s David Coltart also took a swipe at ZEC and accused it of failing to execute its Constitutional mandate.
He said there was no special reason why Zimbabweans in the diaspora were not voting when the country’s Constitution is clear that every Zimbabwean should vote regardless of where they are based.
“ZEC should allow every Zimbabwean to vote without any excuse as provided for by our Constitution.”
“This includes diaspora Zimbabweans and homeless people,” Coltart advised.
Moses Mzila, the interim leader of Alliance for National Salvation (ANSA) said his party believed that 2018 elections would be rigged more than any of the country’s elections since 1980.
“To think that biometric voting will aid opposition parties to defeat Zanu PF is an illusion,” Mzila charged.
“As long as ZEC continues to be partisan; as long as Zanu PF has a hand in the process of setting up this technology, then we must forget about free and fair elections in 2018,” he warned.
But Moyo argued that ZEC was ready to deliver free and fair elections, saying even voter registration which political parties fear would be delayed will be done on time.
“We will announce the roadmap as soon as the BVR tendering process is finalized and registration of voters done on time,” Moyo said.
“As ZEC we want to assure you that we will deliver one of the best elections in the world come 2018; so you must have trust in us.”
In the past critics and opposition parties have cried foul citing rigging by the ruling Zanu PF using institutions such as ZEC.
Meanwhile, a collective of opposition political parties under the National Electoral Reforms Agenda, better known as NERA, have been pushing for electoral reforms they believe will level the playing field in the forthcoming elections.