MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora has called for the demilitarisation of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to level the playing field amongst political parties and curb intimidation.
Presenting a petition on behalf of the United Citizens Alliance before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs yesterday, Mwonzora said the independence of ZEC from the executive was of much importance.
“ZEC must not be populated by members of the CIO, military and the police or any former members of such. This is crucial because, in 1992, Zimbabwean generals issued a SWATO death sentence for any candidate without liberation credentials saying they cannot be a President, and that order has not been reversed. Now you find that some former soldiers who were present during the time the order was made are now members of ZEC, so this order is still in their hands, “said Mwonzora.
Mwonzora added that whilst there is nothing wrong with former soldiers finding employment however alternative forms of employment should be found as this is fair for other political parties.
“My party, for example, will be fielding a candidate who obviously has no war credentials, ZEC must ask the current ZDF commander general Sibanda to undo this command and say civilians can take part in the elections and if they win they will be respected.”
Incoming ZEC chair Priscilla Chigumba said whilst she was not sure if it was possible to ask the current commander to undo what a former commander did, ZEC was not opposed to any engagement which will advance the electoral process adding that only 15 % of ZEC was militant.
“ZEC policy is that we are not precluded from employing former military members, provided that they are retired and not active. We have less than 15% of those, but yes they are in the Zec, but I would hasten to add that a lot of those former military personnel retired from their institutions five, six, seven years ago. We have not had any new military personnel joining ZEC for the simple reason that there was a treasury freeze.
“I have gone through their files and satisfied myself that these are no longer serving members now. Unless and until the laws are changed that we are not at liberty to recruit retired members of the security sector, we maintain the position that those already in our ranks will perhaps for this elections remain in position until maybe we are informed otherwise,” she said
According to Chigumba about 57 of the 383 ZEC employees have a military background