Zec de­nies be­ing ‘mil­i­tarised’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda Se­nior Re­porter

THE Zim­babwe Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (Zec)yes­ter­day dis­missed claims by op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties and some sec­tions of civil so­ci­ety that it is mil­i­tarised and full of se­cu­rity agents.

Zec’s act­ing chief elec­tions of­fi­cer, Mr Utoile Si­laig­wana, who was speak­ing dur­ing a work­shop or­gan­ised by the Zim­babwe Elec­toral Sup­port Net­work (ZESN) in Bu­l­awayo, said there was no serv­ing mil­i­tary per­son­nel in the elec­toral body.

“I want to cat­e­gor­i­cally make it clear that there are no serv­ing mem­bers of the mil­i­tary work­ing for Zec. I am an ex-Zipra cadre who served in the army and served for 20 years be­fore I re­tired and joined Zec. In fact, it is not a crime that I once served in the Zim­babwe Na­tional Army,” he said.

Mr Si­laig­wana said it was his con­sti­tu­tional right to change ca­reers. “It is my con­sti­tu­tional right to change ca­reers just like any other Zim­bab­wean and I chal­lenge you to check with the army whether I am still on their pay­roll,” he said.

Mr Si­laig­wana’s com­ments fol­low claims by MDC-T spokesper­son Mr Obert Gutu that Zec was in­fil­trated with se­cu­rity and mil­i­tary per­son­nel.

Mr Gutu ques­tioned the ra­tio­nale be­hind the em­ploy­ment of Ma­jor-Gen­eral Douglas Nyika­yaramba and for­mer At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Mr Sobusa Gu­laNde­bele at the Elec­toral Su­per­vi­sory Com­mis­sion (ESC), which was re­placed by Zec.

Mr Si­laig­wana re­sponded: “Ma­jor-Gen­eral Nyika­yaramba and (Mr) Sobusa Gula-Nde­bele never worked for Zec, but yes, they both worked for ESC and le­gal pro­cesses were fol­lowed in their re­cruit­ment. We need to have a pro­gres­sive mind rather than to think in ret­ro­spect.”

Mr Si­laig­wana urged scep­ti­cal op­po­si­tion par­ties to em­brace the new bio­met­ric vot­ers roll for the 2018 har­monised elec­tions.

He said the new tech­nol­ogy would be sub­jected to thor­ough pub­lic scru­tiny by the elec­torate for pur­poses of trans­parency, ac­cu­racy and cred­i­bil­ity.

“The bio­met­ric vot­ers’ roll is aimed at mak­ing our elec­toral sys­tem more trans­par­ent and cred­i­ble. It is in­formed by re­gional and global ex­pe­ri­ences in en­sur­ing cred­i­bil­ity. Pri­vacy of in­for­ma­tion is en­hanced and we should re­move neg­a­tiv­ity about this new tech­nol­ogy,” said Mr Si­laig­wana.

He said the new process, which re­quires about $50 mil­lion, would be com­pleted in 2017 in readi­ness for the 2018 elec­tions. “We have 10 000 polling sta­tions in the coun­try that ZEC in­tends to use as bio­met­ric voter reg­is­tra­tion cen­tres”.

Mr Si­laig­wana urged po­lit­i­cal par­ties and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions to con­duct voter ed­u­ca­tion on the bio­met­ric vot­ers roll.

He said the elec­toral body is craft­ing a new vot­ers’ roll to re­place the ex­ist­ing one and el­i­gi­ble vot­ers who fail to reg­is­ter in the ex­er­cise to be con­ducted by next year will not be el­i­gi­ble to vote in the 2018 har­monised elec­tions. — @mash­nets

Mr Utoile Si­laig­wana

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