HomeOpinion & AnalysisEditorial comment: Zec must come clean on poll theft

Editorial comment: Zec must come clean on poll theft

TWO years away from a general election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) could not resist dragging skeletons of the 2018 poll out of a dusty cupboard to remind everyone why their public profile is so low.

In December 2019, Jonathan Moyo, a former Zanu PF strategist, politburo member and government minister launched a book claiming massive fraud at Zec allowing President Emmerson Mnangagwa to steal the election from his youthful opponent, Nelson Chamisa.

The book: Excelgate: How Zimbabwe’s 2018 Presidential Election was Stolen, points fingers at some key figures at Zec and the involvement of the State security apparatus in the scheme to steal the election.

The 2018 poll was supposed to bring Zimbabweans together, coming less than a year after the hated former strongman Robert Mugabe had been removed from power by his army chiefs. Instead, it was fiercely contested and showed the deep divide seperating Zimbabweans.

According to Zec, Mnangagwa won the election by 50,7% of the vote, barely avoiding a run-off while Chamisa trailed with 44,3%. Chamisa challenged the results and the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruled in Mnangagwa’s favour.

But Moyo alleged that unadulterated results in the controversial Zec server had “Chamisa with 66% of the vote and Mnangagwa with 33%,” before “constructive rigging of the election by Zec at the instigation of Defence House.”

The matter should have ended when the ConCourt made its ruling and nobody was interested in the 2018 elections anymore. Only for Zec, usually tight-lipped when allegations that call into question its suitability to run polls competently or its impartiality are made, to resurrect the matter by issuing a bizarre unexpected statement to defend itself from allegations raised two years ago.

The allegations, it said, were damaging but they were a closed chapter since the ConCourt had made a judgment. So why is Zec prising open a closed chapter, especially one that does not paint the organisation in flattering terms?

Zec chose to revive a painful subject that should have been left to historians and now it is incumbent upon it to respond to Moyo’s allegations. It is difficult to imagine Zec running credible elections with such allegations hanging over it, and while citing an opaque court ruling as defence.

The ConCourt did not make a ruling on whether the polls were stolen or not, or that Zec facilitated their theft,those are allegations that it should address on its own and judging by its statement, there is something amiss.

Since the emergence of the MDC in 1999, elections in Zimbabwe have been fraught, and allegations of poll theft have followed each one of them. Are the ghosts of the 2008, 2013 and 2018 elections haunting Zec?

How can Zimbabwe trust Zec to deliver clean polls in 2023? Allegations raised by Moyo deserve a sober response if Zec wants to be taken seriously. Otherwise, Zimbabwe is ambling towards another contested election, with shadowy people determining the future of the country while it hops from one crisis to another.

Those skeletons Zec is trying to keep hidden, will keep stumbling out.

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