Political analysts have sounded alarm bells over the ongoing changes at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission saying they could affect the quality of this year’s elections if not properly handled.
Last week ZEC its chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, her deputy Rodney Kiwa and Chief Elections Officer Utoile Silaigwana will be solely responsible for ZEC’s communication affairs.
The development has raised eyebrows with some questioning the timing of the changes and follows recent boardroom squabbles that have reportedly brought the business in the electoral commission to a standstill as some seven commissioners have abdicated their duties to Chigumba.
ZEC commissioners have been squabbling over the recently gazetted delimitation. Only Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and her deputy Simukai Kiwa endorsed the document while the majority abstained saying it was produced unprocedurally.
Political analyst, Owen Dhliwayo said: “The latest development in ZEC reflects the concentration of power within few individuals and there is no segregation of duties. This will certainly impact the management of information flow.
“On the other hand, the former spokesperson is being punished for his alleged stance on the delimitation report and it shows there is disharmony which will ultimately lead to a dysfunctional electoral system.”
Prior to the latest development, Jasper Mangwana was the ZEC spokesperson after taking over from Joyce Laetitia Kazembe in 2022.
Mangwana is alleged to be one of the seven commissioners who rebelled against Chigumba over the delimitation report.
Abigail Millicent Mohadi-Ambrose, Catherine Mpofu, Jane Mbetu Nzvenga, Kudzai Shava, Rosewita Murutare and Shepherd Manhivi also allegedly rebelled.
During that time, they wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Parliament rejecting the draft delimitation report.
Mnangagwa did not take heed of the seven commissioners’ concerns and went ahead to gazette the highly criticized document.
Another analyst Lazarous Sauti said the move by ZEC will likely affect public trust, which is key during elections.
“The changes at ZEC, fueled by contestation around the delimitation reports, paint a gloomy picture with regard to the upcoming General Elections. The changes show that there are figures within ZEC and this affects public trust. In any democracy, public trust is key.”
Zimbabwe will go to the polls this year and already questions are being asked about the impartiality of the electoral commission.