The Election Resource Centre (ERC) is deeply disturbed by recent utterances from the Association of Rural District Council (ARDC) indicating an intended programme to mobilize people to register as voters and vote for a particular candidate. Media reports actually capture intention to canvass for people in rural areas to vote for President Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) in the impending 2018 harmonized elections. Particularly, The Herald of Wednesday the 7th of June 2017 reported that the Association of Rural District Councils that is chaired by Dr Killer Zivhu was making significant strides towards mobilisation of voters and achieving 2, 3 million votes for President Mugabe ahead of 2018.
The ERC unequivocally condemns this behaviour for its apparent deviation of the mandate of rural local authorities in Zimbabwe. Using Rural District Councils as mobilization vehicles to the advantage of one candidate is not only unconstitutional but a clearly laid intention to use state resources inappropriately. Such a programme is patently unconstitutional and in direct violation of Section 266 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which stipulates that;
“No employee of a provincial or metropolitan council or a local authority may, in the exercise of their functions—act in a partisan manner; further the interests of any political party or cause; prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause; or violate the fundamental rights or freedoms of any person.”
The ERC demands that Dr Zivhu and indeed ARDC desist from abusing public offices in furtherance of partisan interests. The ARDC needs not be schooled again that once one holds public office in a multi-partisan society their behaviour and practice must be guided by principles of non-partisanship in execution of duties. The ERC maintains that the responsibility to mobilise ZANU PF supporters lies with the ZANU PF party not the Association of Rural District Councils. While Dr Zivhu has every right to mobilize his preferred party’s supporters, doing it under the auspices of ARDC remains improper and defeats the purpose of having an association for RDCs.
The ERC demands an immediate withdrawal from the association and urges the government of Zimbabwe to distance itself from the proposed strategy. Abuse of state resources and institutions for partisan pursuits is unconstitutional and unacceptable.