Zimbabwe: ZEC Warms Up to By-Elections

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is pushing for additional funding to the $11 billion it was allocated in the 2022 national Budget as the election management body has started making preparations for by-elections set for March next year, and harmonised polls in 2023, legislators heard.

ZEC acting chief elections officer, Mrs Jane Chigiji, said their bid stood at $23 billion against the $11 billion they got, but that will not deter them from preparing for the 143 by-elections.

Mrs Chigiji said this yesterday while giving oral evidence before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, during a post-Budget consultative meeting.

She said they had since started preparations for both by-elections and the 2023 harmonised elections, with a view to ensuring they were free and fair.

“We were also able to pilot alignment of enumeration areas of polling areas. This is in preparation of the delimitation exercise which we are supposed to carry out next year. We were also looking at the new development that has happened in the local authority areas.

“We also carried out a delimitation survey to establish the baseline information on what we need to do as a Commission in carrying out the delimitation exercise.

“In our strategy for 2022 to 2024 we recommended the alignment of the Electoral Act to the new Constitution and we are still waiting for that. In all the activities that we are carrying out, we are mainstreaming gender and we are making it a key component in the electoral process,” said Mrs Chigiji.

Voter registration, which was due to start this month, was deferred to next year to allow the Registrar-General’s Office to issue voter registration, said Mrs Chigiji.

“We intended to conduct voter registration in December, but this activity was moved to 2022 to pave way for the Registrar-General so that he is able to issue identity documents which are key to voter registration. It must, however, be noted that voter registration is still continuing.”

Of the 143 by-election vacancies, 129 were for local authority, 28 National Assembly and one for people with disabilities.

Appearing before the same Committee, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner responsible for finance, Gabriel Chaibva, said they had recovered more than US$7 million worth of assets in unexplained wealth as the anti-graft body continues to hunt down proceeds of corruption for eventual seizure and prosecution before the courts.

This come as ZACC continues to push for a legal framework that allows it to prosecute its own cases to ensure that it effectively discharges its mandate of fighting corruption.

During the meeting, Comm Chaibva outlined their achievements in fighting corruption that include recovery of assets but legislators expressed concern that it had secured only six convictions out of the several cases they had handled.

In response, Comm Chaibva said the Constitution provided an administration of justice which he said was democratic had its other side in that it had some bureaucracy where an accused person’s case had to go through other arms and he or she can exercise rights by making several applications thereby delaying conclusion of cases.

“One of the things we have been trying to do is make people understand our role.

“We are saying Zacc is your policeman for corruption. This is why you have asked for prosecution powers, we want to cook our cake and eat it ourselves, we continue to asking for that and as legislators you should consider our request,” he said.

ZACC is working closely with National Prosecuting Authority and other agents fighting corruption.

Comm Chaibva said there was need to adequately fund employees of ZACC so that they effectively discharge their duties notwithstanding the risks they face.

“The ordinary public, in as much as they vociferously talk of corruption they are not willing to fight it because of the attendant risk, corruption fights back as well,” he said.

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