Comment: As we write, thousands of Zimbabweans are marching in the streets of Harare. They are calling for key electoral reforms that are meant to ensure that the elections of 30 July are free, fair and credible. As has been proved by the flawed voters roll compilation and other irregularities that speak to lack of transparency in the electoral process, there can be no way Zimbabwe will have free, fair and credible elections if the country’s electoral system is not immediately reformed.
It is in and with this realisation that citizens are protesting against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). What the people are saying to ZEC is that this is a crucial election that must be contested on a free, fair, credible basis and without room for electoral fraud that has characterised previous elections. If ZEC is genuinely independent as it has claimed, it must pause ands attentively listen to what the people are saying. When they were previously presented with citizen demands for an even electoral playing field, Justice Priscilla Chigumba and the other Commissioners at ZEC cited the country’s laws, which they said do not allow for the addressing of the people’s concerns. In other words, what ZEC is saying is that the country’s legal system does not allow for electoral transparency.
By another token, what ZEC has said is that the country’s laws do not allow citizens to freely and transparently elect leaders of their choice. This is what ZEC is exactly saying when they say that there is no legal basis for ballot papers to be printed and handled transparently. This is what they are essentially saying when they hide behind the law to deny electoral reforms that citizens are legitimately demanding. In doing this, Justice Chigumba and her fellow Commissioners claim that they are acting independently. If this is the case, then they are exercising their independence in the wrong direction. If there is anything of it, the independence of ZEC must be exercised in the best interest of citizens. It must be exercised for the holding of genuinely free, fair and credible elections. Anything away from this may only reinforce the long held idea that ZEC is an appendage of the ZANU PF establishment. If they are not, they must heed the citizenry’s demands and immediately institute reforms that pave way for free, fair and credible elections.